Peter Broderick: These Walls of Mine
Posted In: Erased Tapes, James Catchpole, Peter Broderick, Peter Broderick - These Walls of Mine, These Walls of Mine
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As I looked outside, I listened to the poetry that was being spoken, sprinkled around the music like confetti and given a voice through a deep introspection, found inside These Walls of Mine. Peter Broderick’s latest release on Erased Tapes is a slightly surreal marriage between words and music, and what Broderick is achieving is nothing short of exceptional. Language can often sink just as deeply as physical or musical expression in their recalling of events and moods. Whereas textural development flirts with suggestion in its composition, lyrical expression is more direct, skirting suggestive meanings and making real our thoughts conceived on a spoken breath.
These Walls of Mine is like a photographic collage of fragmentary incidents, moments which only last for minutes at any one time, but ones which stay with us as the years pass, trapped in the mind until a time comes for release. Peter Broderick’s release is made real through his compositions. They speak from the heart, and his vocals which lay inside are spoken and sung with a faithful virtue splashed with surrealism that takes the breath away in their approach and execution. Listening to These Walls of Mine leaves both a sudden appreciation for Broderick’s creativity in his songwriting, and the truth of his words soon to be spoken. Not only that, the spoken word, once out in the open, may be a therapy all of itself, releasing what our heart wishes us to truly voice. As seen with his album, a webpage that was an album and an album that was a webpage, Broderick isn’t afraid to push his creativity forward.
A certain phrasing of words places a rhythmical intensity upon their environment as they are spoken, blessed with the potential to heal or harm. We are often told with a great insistence from an early age that words can never hurt us, yet this is far from the truth. They are able to change our perceptions just as rapidly as each pronunciation comes into being, influential yet mindful of this ability. Peter Broderick has a way with words, using the language fluently; overlapping dialogue into poetry, rhyming unpredictably. Language has the ability to turn the cold, falling rain into a reassuring retreat, a resplendent warmth for the eyes and the mind, guiding us home when the rain falls down.
That sound that’s always there, waiting to be found.
Peter Broderick’s purposeful, mindful delivery and thoughtful lyrics leave vivid images behind the shaded lids of closed eyes. These Walls of Mine is about leaving an imagined safe haven, and facing the real, inner thoughts which we all experience. It’s a contemplative questioning of ourself and our emotions and where they can lead us, taking form in loneliness, abandonment, a craving for acceptance, why we do what we do and why it matters. The elements of melody, harmony and rhythm are found in Broderick’s soulful vocals, and not just in an instrumental context. Broderick’s voice is the true instrument. Elements such as these are often perceived on first thought as belonging to a physical instrument, one linked to the body rather than resonating from deep within it.
In truth, the two extremes of intensity and sensitivity can be heard through lyrical expression.
These Walls of Mine, as the title suggests, is a deeply personal, intimate recording. Contributing to the lyrics are friends and strangers, with the help of the internet, yet it is always Broderick who articulates these, gifting a personal touch through his voice. Yet, at the same time, Broderick speaks perceptions and thoughts of others in the world. Broderick’s lyrics are veiled in abstraction, absorbing in their form and lighting flickers of thoughts in the mind like a candle in the dark. This soft light links narrator to listener, using words as music, deeply evocative in their open revealings. It’s a cryptic diary recounting musings hidden permanently from others in our invisible enclosures. These Walls of Mine is like the truest of mirrors, one which we approach and stare into everyday, looking back on an untroubled face yet one with haunted eyes, hiding our own inner walls of struggle. The many voices of strangers and friends alike are entrancing and intriguing, spinning an entangled web of thoughts. Broderick’s vocal expression moves from song to spoken word, beatboxing to rap, hushed whispers to gospel-influenced musings on the nature of the soul. Whether it is a call and response, a softly sighed whisper or a poem, his flexibility as a songwriter and the ability to realise it with no faults present is a beautiful thing to see. These Walls of Mine is all about expression, piecing together a broken mosaic.
Tears in my eyes.
‘Freyr!’ is heartbreaking in its dispirited reading of an email from Broderick’s father, received while Broderick was on tour, dated Thursday November the 12th, 2009. The email details the disappearance of Broderick’s cat, Freyr. His vocal expression is cold, almost in a state of shock as he recalls the heartbreaking message he received. It is both a dedication to his feline friend, and a loving rememberance. Set against an energetic, alternating perfect 5th to bass rhythm, the track purrs along in high-spirits, playfully bounding over the lyrics, but also leaving soft pawprints of appreciation alongside the sadness. The rhythm also contradicts the condolence in the lyrics, and the feelings of longing associated with missing someone close to your heart. The love for a friend, and the rememberance of fond times spent together.
He was a truly magical cat. He disappeared on November 3rd.
Freyr never was found.
In this song of love, the only voice is you.
On ‘I’ve Tried’, Broderick sings with a delicate honesty, ‘In this brave new world, the only God is you’. The vocals are light and poetic in their delivery, in both the sweetest outpouring from the heart, or perhaps an acceptance in apparent defeat. Trying is a glorious success, however, and the way Broderick sings about trying to catch the eye of a spirit is sung with a grace and an uplifted heart, over a richly organic drone and a clacking rhythm. The words in this track captures the soul of the album as a whole, because truth is the guiding presence covering all of These Walls of Mine.
When I see you, I smile, and my pain is soothed.
Composed of individual sentences contributed by friends and strangers, ‘When I Blank I Blank’, is a repeated recital of thoughts; an intimate looking glass into an inner world of others, yet also experiences which we all feel at one point or another. The repeating is rhythmical and places an emphasis on the words as their own rhythms. The music opens up a part of us that often shuts down, blank-faced and emotionless for a fear of being too open, and perhaps judged. Each voice is different and given an opportunity to shine, invisible thoughts turned into words and released into the world.
She walks with grace, and every day it gets late and I crawl into bed, darkness ahead. I wonder where you are and if you even are.
A mirror of spoken word and song, entitled ‘These Walls of Mine I and II’, resonates the most in its absence of musical elements. Here, Broderick’s inner thoughts are laid starkly down, reading as a poem. His soft repetitions and deliberate stutterings heard in the piece are gentle, and reveal themselves fully in the second part. As sure as the turning of a page, the words are as honest as paper creasing softly over the fingers. The second part quickly morphs into a hip-hop flavoured track, and a different intonation and rhythm is born. Broderick’s vocal completely transforms the track with an intelligent, sharp and rhythmical delivery that raises a smile alongside the beat. It’s good to reflect, to open up.
This song is waiting to breathe life.
Perhaps the most personal and contemplative piece is ‘I Do This’. Broderick’s beautifully sparse and thoughtful fingerstyle guitar, and the sound of loving fingers running along the fretboard and rustling the strings sit alongside a personal searching; of the art and why it is so important. Melody lies beside a monotone narrative, spoken by two seperate vocals; the conscious and the subconscious locked in a cycle of endless questioning over the artistic process. Echoes of thoughts which we cannot sometimes silence. It’s a touching, deep reflection on feelings set to song. This piece highlights the thinnest of lines between language and music most effectively, sonnets to stems, a quatrain to a quaver. Poetry is the music of language, the graceful ballet of words spoken in a breath of poignancy. As the phone call ends, the beep-beep-beep of a hang up echoes forcefully, and leaves us in silence. Goodbye, he whispers.
The way that Broderick is so open is an indication of his bravery. The songs, for they are most definitely songs, reach in and become something for the nourishment of the spirit, in an indifferent, unforgiving place.
That sound that’s always there, waiting to be found, again.
These Walls of Mine acts as a quiet documentary on being true to yourself. The way the voices of strangers unheard are now given voice through Broderick’s vocals adds touches of different personalities upon the record, like photographs united together in a scrapbook. It is very much a documentation of music free from any stylistic walls, and with Broderick’s music there is never a fear that the music will be caged within safety, whether it is speaking of ducks in Copenhagen – ‘there goes that duck again. Pretty sure it’s the same duck’, or bicycles covered in snow.
Can’t wait to see where it goes.
- James Catchpole for Fluid Radio