News, Reviews

Public Service Broadcasting Share New Track and Video “Der Rhythmus der Maschinen” (Featuring Blixa Bargeld, Veteran of The Bad Seeds and Einstürzende Neubauten)

September 22, 2021
Photo credit Alex Lake

Public Service Broadcasting Share New Track and Video “Der Rhythmus der Maschinen” (Featuring Blixa Bargeld, Veteran of The Bad Seeds and Einstürzende Neubauten)

Public Service Broadcasting today share “Der Rhythmus der Maschinen [ft. Blixa Bargeld]”, the latest single from their highly anticipated upcoming fourth album, Bright Magic, out this Friday, 24th September 2021 via Play It Again Sam. Blixa Bargeld, veteran of The Bad Seeds and Einstürzende Neubauten, becomes the voice of Berlin’s industry on the robo-teknik track, which translates as The Rhythm of the Machines

J. Willgoose, Esq. said the following about “Der Rhythmus der Maschinen”, “It’s a kind of reinterpretation of the first few minutes of Fritz Lang’s Berlin-made visionary science fiction film, Metropolis, using samples from Ruttmann’s 1930 audio film ‘Wochenende’ cut to a heavy, industrial soundtrack. Blixa Bargeld delivers a half-spoken monologue over the outro about the city as a machine – it’s a bit mad (the whole song is) but I like it. The song is about the more physical, industrial influence on the city, be it the railway or heavy industry and manufacturing that saw it boom in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.”

An accompanying video for “Der Rhythmus der Maschinen [ft. Blixa Bargeld]”, made by Jordan Martin at Double Vision using archival footage and content from public service films

An exhilarating journey, Public Service Broadcasting build this immersive world with subtle nods to Kraftwerk and references to the post-punk era. This is the formidable ensemble that showcases Public Service Broadcasting in this new light, whilst the outfit ventures deeper into insular and dark musical terrain.

Together the musicians pull together to create this expressive journey, building momentum whilst the instrumentation intensifies passage upon passage. As the angular notes start to form this dystopian world, as the tones and notes layer up to add this crushing attribute the audience finds comfort in the ominous textures which bring this complex depth to the vision. This truly is a masterpiece, once the vocals join the soundscape the impression alters and adds this distinct and direct appeal to the creation.

Jordan Martin said the following about the video: Using the Prelinger Archives we sourced footage from the era. You’ll see things from Ruttmann’s Berlin: Symphony of a Great City and Master Hands from the Jam Handy Organisation. A really fun edit, creating a driving force to the track, using images of huge and intricate macro machinery from the industrial revolution.”

The track follows the release of the album’s first two singles, which were both A-Listed at BBC 6Music. “Blue Heaven”, an anthem of proud self-determination inspired by Marlene Dietrich, features vocals from Andreya Casablanca of Berlin garageistes Gurr. “People, Let’s Dance”, featuring vocals from the Berlin-based musician, EERA, incorporates a guitar riff from Depeche Mode’s “People Are People” and takes its title from a chapter of Rory MacLean’s “Berlin: Imagine A City”. Showcasing another, more contemplative, side to the record, the band have also shared “Lichtspiel III: Symphonie Diagonale”, from the third part of the album, where the shadow of Bowie’s B-side to Low looms large. It is the third in a series of tracks entitled Lichtspiel (literally, “light play”) which were inspired by pioneering early abstract, expressionist film produced, or debuted, in 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.

Their most ambitious undertaking yet, Bright Magic brings the listener to Europe’s heart and de facto capital, the cultural and political metropolis that is the ‘Hauptstadt’ of the Federal Republic of Germany – Berlin

Moving to Berlin was an inspiration energised by reading Rory MacLean’s Berlin: Imagine a City. 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…”

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. A Eureka moment of sorts came in November 2018 when Willgoose heard Walter Ruttmann’s radical Berlin tape-artwork Wochenende (or Weekend), which is sampled on three of Bright Magic’s tracks. Created in 1928, the piece collaged speech, field recordings and music into a sonic evocation of the city. Resolving to integrate these long-gone fragments with new manipulated sound sources, he set about making his own Wochenende, a narrative drama for the ears which decodes and realises the dreams of Berlin he’d constructed in his mind. 

J. Willgoose, Esq. said “I started to get a feeling for where the title of Bright Magic wanted to take me, towards ideas of illumination and inspiration, electricity and flashes of light and colour and sound (all the tracks would eventually be colour coded). I sent it to the rest of the band, and said, I know it’s going to change, but we’ll see how the city itself colours that.” 

Willgoose moved to Berlin from April 2019 to January 2020. Combining sound archaeology and the flâneuring of the psychogeographer, one street-level pursuit of the city’s energy involved Willgoose walking the Leipzigerstrasse, site of the city’s first electric streetlight, using a wide-band electromagnetic receiver from Moscow’s Soma Laboratories. “I walked up and down recording electrical currents and interference,” he laughs. “You can hear a few of these little frequency buzzes, clicks and impulses in Im Licht (a song inspired in part by pioneering lightbulb manufacturers AEG and Siemens). It’s what I was trying to do in the wider sense, I suppose – to capture those tiny little pulses you pick up while walking through a city.”

He 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. Indeed, the Warszawa-evoking “The Visitor” – whose designated colour is the particular Orange of that album’s sleeve – was initially intended to feature a sample of Bowie reflecting, says Willgoose, on “how he viewed himself as this vessel for synthesizing and refracting other influences, and presenting avant-garde influences to the mainstream. We tried to absorb a bit of that spirit.” 

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. 

Public Service Broadcasting live: Tickets are available HERE

October 2021

Sun 24 Cardiff University Great Hall                              

Mon 25 Brighton Dome                                          

Tues 26 Bristol O2 Academy                                                

Wed 27 Exeter The Great Hall                                              

Thurs 28 Southampton O2 Guildhall                                  

Sat 30 Aylesbury Friars Waterside                                              

Sun 31 Birmingham O2 Institute          

November 2021

Mon 1 Leeds O2 Academy

Tues 2  Llandudno Venue Cymru                   

Thurs 4 Manchester O2 Apollo                                  

Fri 5 Newcastle O2 City Hall                                      

Sat 6  Aberdeen Music Hall                                

Sun 7 Glasgow Barrowland                                  

Tues 9 Nottingham Rock City                                  

Wed 10 London O2 Brixton Academy                          

Thurs 11 Cambridge Corn Exchange   

Sun 14 Amsterdam Paradiso Noord, Netherlands

Mon 15 Hamburg Nochtspeicher, Germany

Tues 16 Gothenburg Pustervik, Sweden

Wed 17 Stockholm Nalen, Sweden

Fri 19 Berlin Hole44, Germany

Sat 20    Munich Strom, Germany

Sun 21 Cologne Helios37, Germany

January 2022

Weds 19 Belfast Limelight

Thurs 20 Dublin Olympia Theatre

Fri 21 Cork Cyprus Avenue

Bright Magic, is released on 24th September 2021 via Play It Again Sam.
Pre-order / save it HERE.

    1. Der Sumpf (Sinfonie der Großstadt)
    2. Im Licht
    3. Der Rhythmus der Maschinen [ft. Blixa Bargeld]
    4. People, Let’s Dance [ft. EERA]
    5. Blue Heaven [ft. Andreya Casablanca]
    6. Gib mir das Licht [ft. EERA]
    7. The Visitor
    8. Lichtspiel I: Opus
    9. Lichtspiel II: Schwarz Weiss Grau
    10. Lichtspiel III: Symphonie Diagonale
    11. Ich und die Stadt [ft. Nina Hoss]

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