British electronic duo Broads have announced their new 6-track ‘Ollust’ LP, a spacious and upflifting ambient offering set for release on March 6 via Humm Recordings. Ahead of this, they revealed the lead single ‘Happisburgh’, along with B-side ‘Red Pits’.
‘Happisburgh’ (pronounced ‘haze-bruh’) is built around ideas of a town disappearing into the sea – history being rendered in front of us, and future folk tales falling into place. The accompanying video, most fitting considering the thematic, was filmed and edited by Mark Jennings.
For ‘Ollust’, Broads teamed up with long-time collaborator Milly Hirst to take another leap into the unknown – an almost-entirely analogue album built around pianos, drones, field recordings and wordless vocals.
Ollust (which means ‘Always’ in the local dialect) is something of a departure for the Norwich-based 2-piece. The lush, layered electronics of ‘Field Theory’ and its follow-up ‘A Small Box Over a Global Goal’ have been stripped away, and replaced with minimal, cyclical piano pieces and treated field recordings. These central elements are offset by a variety of droning synths, various acoustic instruments and the hypnotic voice of folk starlet Milly Hirst (who previously collaborated with Broads on the tracks ‘Young Grizzlies’, ‘Sometimes I Feel Like I’m a Terrible Dad’and most notably ‘Climbs’).
The opportunity to work on a full album with Milly was one that the band jumped at – her skill at weaving a story through music is incredible, and Milly embraced the challenge of adapting that skill to Broads’ minimalist approach.
“The tracks take inspiration from Norfolk locations, landscapes and culture – In preparing for the album, we had lots of days out in obscure locations across the county, where I made hours of field recordings and Mark took video footage, which he used as a guide for writing his piano parts at home,” says James Ferguson.
“The county of Norfolk is rich in history, contradiction and oddity, and the three of us wanted to create a document of all of these things. It’s a beautiful, frustrating, exciting, forward/ backward place to live, and after almost a quarter of a century making music here it seemed high time to pay tribute to the environment that has shaped our sound and our approach to art over such a long time.”
Broads is Mark Jennings and James Ferguson. Since joining together in 2017, they have released 2 albums of mostly-electronic song experiments – 2018’s ‘Field Theory’ and 2019’s ‘A Small Box Over a Global Goal’ – both on their own imprint, Humm Recordings. A slow transition through genres and approaches has resulted in a broad back catalogue – from the lo-fi guitar/RS-09 scratchings of 2013’s self-titled debut LP, through the tense atmospherics of ‘Hellas’ (2015) and ‘Everything Is Spinning…’ (2016) and the glittering electronics (with occasional guitars) of ‘Field Theory’ and ‘A Small Box…’.
‘Happisburgh’ released on January 31 and is available everywhere digitally. The full ‘Ollust’ album will be released on Friday, March 6 on CD, 12″ vinyl and as a digital download, including on iTunes and Spotify. It can be pre-ordered via Bandcamp.
Thanks to support from Arts Council England, in April 2020, Broads and Milly Hirst will also embark on a 6-date tour of the locations referenced in the track titles, together with visual artist Liam Roberts, who will manipulate local archive film footage live at each performance.
Mark Jennings – pianos, Korg Minilogue, vocal
James Ferguson – programming, field recordings, MIDI synths, guitars, Moog Sub-37, vocal, Philicorda GM754, Analogue effects
Milly Hirst – vocals, viola, Roland GR55GK guitar synth
Happisburgh, Strangers, Thetford written by James Ferguson & Mark Jennings
Oulton, Octagon, Dereham written by James Ferguson, Mark Jennings & Milly Hirst
Recorded at Humm by JF, at Suffolk Square by MJ, at The Sickroom by Owen Turner and on location around Norfolk
Mixed by Broads and Owen Turner at The Sickroom
Mastered by Owen Turner at The Sickroom
Photography by Kelly Robb
Cover poem ‘August Bank Holiday’ by Jack Underwood
Live visuals by Liam Roberts
Supported by Arts Council England
Photos by Kelly Robb
BROADS & MILLY HIRST SHOWS
02 April 2020 – Octagon Chapel, Norwich
03 April 2020 – Thetford Guildhall
04 April 2020 – Oulton Chapel
05 April 2020 – Strangers’ Hall, Norwich
10 April 2020 – Happisburgh St. Mary’s Church Rooms
11 April 2020 – Dereham Memorial Hall