A welcome reissue for the Broadway Project's debut album, bolstered with extra tracks.
Peter Marsh 2002
Sample based music, or at least that which samples other people's music seems to have reached a bit of an impasse these days. Confined either to the rarified post modern collisions dreamt up by the likes of John Oswald, the dancefloor ironies of the Ninja Tune crowd or the abstractions of Matmos et althe overall impression is of sometimes clever but ultimately cold navel gazing exercises.
The Broadway Project (aka Dan Berridge) has a different idea; take a few of your favourite records,cut them up alittle and then play lots of bits of them together. No post modernist agenda (save a few political references to Human Rights issues), and some of the records are pretty well known, almost iconic (Brian Eno, 10cc, Alice Coltrane, Harold Budd, Nick Drake).
Compassion (originally released last year and now reissued with extra tracks culled from earlier singles) is little short of a masterpiece. Though Berridge's approach seems casual, his results are pure alchemy. Either he's very lucky, or he's not at all casual and spends hours and hours in a darkened bedroom hunched over his PC, timestretching, pitchshifting and all the rest of it. Who knows, and really it doesn't matter.
So what does it sound like ? It's complex, deeply atmospheric, sometimes dark but deliriously beautiful throughout. Even when his sources are instantly recognisable (Eno, 10cc)or more esoteric (Spirit, Stomu Yamashta) Berridge's handling of them produces something new; there's a real sense that he loves and respects the material he's dealing with, and more importantly he's heard a way of re-presenting it.
Often powered by downtempo grooves, Berridge spins plangent electric pianos, big cinematic strings, hysterical guitar rockisms and spoken word into a dense, heady brew that makes most sample based music seem stifling, impersonal and irrelevant.