Broadcast are probably not as widely known as they deserve to be on the strength of their records - drifting in a cult domain somewhere beneath Stereolab and Tortoise, and alongside the similarly ignored Pram. I guess it's a Birmingham thing?
The albums have been fine thus far, though certainly not as frequent as one would hope - you get the idea the members of the band have other lives as social workers, electronic engineers, or film archivists or something. Like Tortoise, they have found an apt home on Warp, the home of electronica for artists like The Aphex Twin, Autechre, and Boards of Canada. The material collected here has been spread around and about, the `Extended Play Two' e.p. was the first thing I picked up by them and I thought it was fantastic, sounding like a blend of Soviet News TV broadcasts and Stereolab (with whom Broadcast originally put records out with on the `Lab's label).
`The Future Crayon' is an ideal primer in a band who deserves a bit more attention; I guess if they were American they would have got it? The sleeve lets you know the origin of the 18 tracks, presented in non-linear order from their sources - the quality shows that a standard was met, the tracks drifting from 1998's `Hammer Without a Master', which is certainly a record Damon Albarn has heard, to 2003's `Pendulum' e.p. (which featured the gorgeous `Still Feels Like Tears', `Small Song IV', `One Hour Empire', `Minus Two', and `Violent Playground'). The releases `The Future Crayon' stems from are respectively: `We Are Reasonable People', `Echo's Answer', `Come on Let's Go', `Extended Play', `Extended Play Two', the `All Tomorrows Parties 01' collection, & the `Pendulum' e.p.
The music is certainly not far from The Free Design-Pram-Stereolab-Tortoise realm, though with a soundtrack vibe that sometimes recalls Barry Adamson/Damon Albarn and elements that would appeal to fans of Four Tet. It's all pretty wonderful stuff, demonstrating that many acts produce great material in the single, e.p. and out-take realm. My favourite songs that I would advise to download or sample if unprepared to take the risk and add to the basket include `Still Feel Like Tears', `Test Area', `One Hour Empire', the hypnotic `Poem of Dead Song', `Hammer Without Master', and the epic `Unchanging Window/Chord Simple' - which opens with a Soviet TV style jingle before drifting into a blend of Krautrock and Stereolab (...sometimes the same thing, I know...). In all, `The Future Crayon' is a hugely enjoyable c.d. for both fans and the uninitiated alike - certainly one of the compilations of 2006 and a companion for Tortoise's recent box-set and the compilation of Four Tet. Recommended then...