Burren – Peter Broderick and East Forest – Album Review
by Cathy Brown
Over a career that ranges from solo piano work to minimalist drone scores for film, from singer-songwriter folk to accomplished session/ accompanist performer, Peter Broderick has always been a singular musical presence. In the past, Broderick has played with Nils Frahm, M Ward and Efterklang, using collaboration as a means to explore different aspects of his own work. Now, he has teamed up with multi-genre artist East Forest a new collaboration – Burren – set for release on St Patrick’s Day.
The album was recorded over the space of one week in The Burren in Ireland and the tracks – which feature the natural sounds of the landscape – are all presented in the order in which they were recorded. The pair had never met before they began to work together which makes the cohesion and beauty of this album all the more impressive.
Burren is an ethereal and gently hypnotising chain of music that holds together with a striking delicacy. Most of the tracks are instrumental, with Broderick only singing on a handful and on much of the album the vocals travel somewhere past the realm of perceptible language.
Opening track ‘Reunited’ uses piano and sustain along with synth drones and otherworldly strings to create a dream-like vibe that flirts with traditional Irish airs, placing the music firmly in the landscape where it was recorded. Single ‘The Barren Burren’, with its arpeggios of guitar and layered vocals has a sense of improvised freedom despite its well-structured composition and arrangement. Both these tracks carry on for nearly eight minutes each, creating a sound that is formidable and meditative. ‘Duet on the Ocean Floor’ is a blend of piano and violin, with heavenly drones bringing an undeniable depth of emotion.
Standout track ‘Landscape’ has a darker, ambient feel, using spoken word, organ and swopping strings to create a cinematic soundscape that marries John Carpenter and Sergio Leone. ‘In the Middle’ begins with gentle immersion and echoing vocals, but soon changes direction, embracing dance floor beats to produce something cacophonous yet soothing.
Broderick and Forest have created a timeless album that displays a striking ability to leave space within the music – a beautiful flexibility – which allows the listener room to feel and contemplate. The sense of place is highlighted through the recorded sounds of birdsong and running water, particularly on the ethereal ‘Journey to the Holy Well’, a reminder that this album has grown organically from its setting.
Burren is lush and rich in tone and atmosphere, with enough variation to hold the attention and defy characterisation as background music. It is an album that demands and rewards close listening with its intricate arrangements and exhilarating soundscapes, which defy convention and classification.
Categories: Album Reviews, Header, Music
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