Public Service Broadcasting don’t do things by halves. For 2017’s Every Valley, a stirring account of the south Wales coalmines’ decline, they pored over books, archival footage and audio recordings, setting up base and committing the songs to tape in the Ebbw Vale Institute. Followup Bright Magic found J. Willgoose Esq in Berlin for nine months, absorbing the atmosphere of a “fascinating, contrary, seductive place” – and regular source of artistic inspiration. Had the opportunity arisen around the time of 2015’s The Race For Space, you suspect he might have hitched a rocket ride with Bezos or Branson, purely for research purposes.
Bright Magic is, like its predecessor, a brilliant record. More electronic and ambient than Every Valley, it picks up where Willgoose’s solo album (as Late Night Final) left off. The songs are arranged into three phases, with the euphoric headrush pop of Blue Heaven at the centre, while sampled speech is largely sidelined in favour of guest vocalists, who this time include Einstürzende Neubauten’s Blixa Bargeld.
words BEN WOOLHEAD
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