It's a bit tricky to be a musician today, for many reasons. In particular, the endless directions and methods available to composers, something artists of the 20th century fought tooth and nail to provide, can prove paralytical when you're approaching a "blank canvas". Throw the ready availability of computers into the mix and it's overwhelming. Just how the hell does one limit his possibilities and actually complete
a piece of music?
Broadcast had a novel idea: use it all.
HaHa Sound is a good example what a talented band can do in an era of infinite possibilities. Truly, the album's diversity knows very few limits and reads like a musical history lesson. Psychedelia, classic electroacoustics, rock, folk and even Bach-like fugues fight for the spotlight, yet never get in each other's way. "Colour Me In" begins with a (pre-drug addled) Marianne Faithfull tune, seemingly infected by broken machines: almost-identifiable samples (I think there's a bike falling off the porch in there) explode, bubble and mesh with buzzing 8-bit string sounds, harpsichord/carousel melodies and Trish Keenan's straight-out-of-a-time-machine, Euro-hippie-chic vocals. "Pendulum" shifts gears with steady lo-fi drums, organ licks and Venusian guitars; it shoegazes and glides like the greatest My Bloody Valentine B-side ever. "Before We Begin" conjures images of a kitsch-stuffed video -- all cheesy star-wipes, spinning lights and hippie slogans painted across go-go dancers' midsections.
Broadcast have done some serious research, evident in their impeccable explorations, but their true genius is their ability to work with structured and not-so-structured ideas and make them feel natural. Most of the songs on HaHa Sound begin with a clear melody (usually held down in the vocals) and some other steady pattern (drums, synth blobs). These are pitched against complete dissonance created by guitars, laptops and microtonal synths -- I can't imagine how Keenan keeps her pitch when she's playing live. It's as if two bands collided onstage, but somehow fused their polar opposite personalities to make something organic, even if that cohesion sometimes hangs by a thread ("Distorsion", "Hawk").
Broadcast evidently have no qualms about living in ambiguity, using whatever tools are available and turning chaos into catchy cohesion. As a result, HaHa Sound is a disorderly delight.