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Broadcast Tender Buttons

Like shortwave radio monologues listened to intently in a vintage Godard film, Broadcast‘s Tender Buttons is both washed out yet central and commanding. Inspired by the minimalist drone of French library music, as diffused through haunted capacitors, this British group-now pared to the duo of Trish Keenan and James Cargill-casts autumnal, emotionally self-contained vignettes on their third full-length (not counting 1997‘s singles collection). The Teutonic frostiness of The Velvet Underground and Nico hovers above ring-modulated modem handshaking trills, but this music is filtered a touch more through early ‘80s 8-bit workstations than ‘60s psyche-rock oscillators. With sparse clusters of drum machine and processed synths replacing live percussion, the sequences are scratchy and linear, sullen and frayed, while the breathy vocals are heavy-lidded folk. Buttons is a Criterion collection celebrating something not overtly active, but slowly unfurling until fully activating.

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