“This is the music they play every night in London. The Symphony of War”
London based duo, Public Service Broadcasting have a fairly simple mission statement, “Teaching the lessons of the past through the music of the future”, and if history had sounded this good, we’d have paid more attention at school.
Comprised of J. Willgoose, Esq. (playing all manner of stringed instruments and various sample-y and electronic noodles) and Wrigglesworth (drums, pianos and even more electronic noodles), the pair blends old public information films and archive footage with driving rhythms, glistening atmospheric electronics and quite the ear for a tune. For this, their second EP, The War Room, PSB were granted unrivaled access to World War 2 propaganda films by the British Film Institute and the result is nothing short of amazing.
The EP is dedicated to the memory of George Willgoose, Great Uncle of J. Willgoose, Esq., who died at the Battle of Dunkirk in 1940 aged 26, and closes with the heartbreaking “Waltz For George”. Heartbreaking not just for the account of soldiers returning home that plays over it, nor just for the silence that hits you in the chest like a sledgehammer as you begin to feel not euphoria at their safe return, but grief for the horror they have lived. Heartbreaking also for the fragile simplicity of the notes plucked on the banjolele that the George himself had owned and played as they float over the tale of a soldier returning, ukulele over his shoulder, a solider that wasn’t George, nor ever could be.
Before that, we travel history atop a musical carpet; from the sinister, threatening undercurrent the imminence of war brings, to the defiant and inspirational stoicism of the ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’ mentality. From the energetic and buoyant optimism of “Spitfire” to the relative calm but no less confident “Dig For Victory”.
Across its five tracks we are given not only a lesson in history, but also in making incredible, emotive and moving music. Even without the narrative we would be left with instrumentals of foot-tapping brilliance, but play in the various samples and the EP evolves into a masterful piece of stirring and emotional storytelling through music.
In Short: A stunning, intelligent and poignant piece of electro-rock. We absolutely love it.
Get It: The War Room is out today via Test Card Recordings and is available on the Public Service Broadcasting Bandcamp page. Limited edition vinyl is available at Rough Trade having already sold out on the bandcamp page, so be quick if you want one.