A Three-Part Album, ‘Bright Magic’ is Public Service Broadcasting’s Most Ambitious Undertaking Yet, Bringing Listeners to Europe’s Heart and De Facto Capital – Berlin.
Public Service Broadcasting have been “teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future” for more than a decade now. 2013’s debut album Inform – Educate – Entertain used archival samples from the British Film Institute as audio-portals to the Battle Of Britain, the summit of Everest, and beyond. Two years later, The Race For Space used similar methods to laud the superpowers’ rivalry and heroism in orbit and on the Moon. In 2017, joined by voices including Manic Street Preachers’ James Dean Bradfield, Every Valley was a moving exploration of community and memory via the rise and fall of the British coal industry. Pointedly topical in its analyses, it reached number four on the UK charts.
Next stop? Berlin. The London band have created an album in three parts (Building A City / Building A Myth / Bright Magic), that brings you to Europe’s heart and de facto capital, the cultural and political metropolis that is the ‘Hauptstadt’ of the Federal Republic of Germany. Bright Magic will arrive on September 24th, 2021 via Play It Again Sam.
Marking today’s announcement is ‘People, Let’s Dance’, featuring vocals from Berlin-based musician, EERA. The single is accompanied by a colourful visual directed by Chloe Hayward, featuring roller-skaters against a city backdrop.
Incorporating a guitar riff from Depeche Mode’s ‘People Are People’ and taking its title from a chapter of Rory MacLean’s Berlin: Imagine A City, the track opens up part two of the album, which finds the scene shifting to a three-day weekend club environment and an aspect of Berlin as a long-established free zone for pleasure, art, and expression.
The band – comprising J. Willgoose, Esq., drumming companion Wrigglesworth, multi-instrumentalist JFAbraham, and visuals guru Mr. B – have also announced a UK tour this October and November with a show at London’s Brixton Academy on November 10th, 2021. Tickets are on general sale on June 9th and available HERE.
Though PSB’s use of electronics and surging guitar rock remain familiar, Bright Magic uses samples, and the English language, sparingly. It differs from their previous albums in other ways: less linear and narrative, instead it’s an impressionistic portrait of a city from the ground up.
“Doing this felt inevitable, somehow,” muses J. Willgoose, Esq. “In my head, it was whirring and pulsing away for a long time, even before Every Valley – this fascinating, contrary, seductive place. I knew the album was going to be about the city, and its history and myths, and I was going to move there. So it’s quite a personal story. It’s become an album about moving to Berlin to write an album about people who move to Berlin to write an album…”
Willgoose wrote and recorded in Kreuzberg’s famous Hansa Tonstudio recording complex. This brought closer several inescapable musical touchstones: Depeche Mode’s classic eighties triumvirate, U2’s Achtung Baby, and, crucially, Bowie’s Heroes and Low. “The whole shape and structure of the record is very much in debt to Low,” says Willgoose.
As well as EERA, the album’s other guest voices include Blixa Bargeld, veteran of The Bad Seeds and Einstürzende Neubauten, and Andreya Casablanca of Berlin garageistes Gurr. A very pro-European record, Bright Magic is ultimately not just about one city, but all centres of human interaction and community which allow the free exchange and cross-pollination of ideas.
Next In Next In
⇥ Late Night Final releases debut album ‘A Wonderful Hope’