Although ‘Inform – Educate – Entertain’ has been around for a while, it’s only now that Public Service Broadcasting‘s debut gets a full Irish release.
Breaking down what Public Service Broadcasting do seems like an easy task on face value. They use old public service film footage and meld samples of these with their own music. They’re not the first band to use samples but how PSB have moulded these is utterly awesome.
PSB are musician extraordinaire J.Willgoose, Esq., who seems to play everything apart from the drums which are played by Wrigglesworth. As we’re introduced to ‘Inform-Educate-Entertain’, it’s easy to forget that these samples weren’t specifically made for this album. They sound like they should have always been part of a PSB track. Themes differ through the album. Spitfire originally appeared on PSB’s ‘War Room’ EP and features war propaganda – audio speaking about Spitfire planes, the music reflecting the urgency of planes.
Signal 30 is based around US public films from early boy racers explaining the dangers of drinking, driving and speeding. It’s interesting to look at how some of the attitudes towards driving have changed. Each track is different, the mood is different, the subject matter is different. Recent single, Night Mail, takes samples from the 1936 film of the same name which in turn featured WH Auden’s poem. The rhythm of the track echoes a train hurtling along on the track. The musicality of this album is such that it is mind boggling to even think about where PSB started with these. The samples and this original music seem like were always supposed to be married together in this way, it has just taken the right people to do it.
Of all the tracks on the album though, it is Everest which really makes you think, the track explaining the perils of climbing ‘Peak 15’. The isolation and desperation of trying to get to the summit is portrayed in equal measure through the samples and through PSB’s musical arrangement. The track finishes aptly with the question “Why should a man climb Everest? Because it is there.”
PSB have brought the past to the present, and have reworked, re-imagined and given a new life to these public service films. They ensure that each track is seriously danceable; they do, as promised, Inform, Educate and Entertain. It’s a thrilling ride, and one of the albums of the year.