Peter Broderick Music For Falling From Trees

[Erased Tapes/Western Vinyl; 2009]

Styles: modern composition, ambient
Others: Max Richter, Efterklang, Sylvain Chauveau

Still in his early 20s, Peter Broderick has developed an impressive back catalogue while maintaining a relatively diverse methodology between works. Following the exquisite mini-album Docile and the equally impressive 7-inch single "Retreat/Release," Broderick’s debut full-length, Float, further demonstrated his talent for composition and rightfully garnered comparisons to genre heavyweights such as Max Richter. On 2008’s Home, however, Broderick opted for a more stripped-down, personal approach, with vocals and acoustic guitar playing a much more dominant role. The result was an album of atmospheric bedroom-folk reminiscent of José González or even the more abstract Benoît Pioulard. At first, this shift in form may seem like a significant departure from his earlier material, but as proven by the collection 4 Track Songs released this year on Type, Broderick has dabbled in similar areas before recording his more expansive compositions. Considering the overall quality and range of his material, then, the prospect of a new Peter Broderick release is an exciting one, if for no other reason than to see which direction the young musician will take.

Commissioned by Adrienne Hart as the audio component for her modern dance piece, Music For Falling From Trees finds Broderick’s work placed within a unique context while, at the same time, not venturing too far from his comfort zone. Gracefully exploring seemingly austere and forbidding themes, Hart’s dance delves into the mind of a mentally ill patient, as he struggles to retain his identity through a period of institutionalization. While Broderick’s music has always possessed a cinematic quality, never before has it been associated with such a concrete narrative. While the extent to which the dance's overarching themes affect the listening experience depends on an individual's standpoint, there are certain elements -- the suggestive song titles, the album art (which features still shots of the dance itself), Broderick’s admission that the instruments loosely represent different characters in the dance -- that make it difficult to fully remove the music from its visual counterpart. Still, Broderick succeeds in composing music that, while certainly melancholic, possesses a hopeful, nostalgic, and even playful quality at times. And it is through this range of mood and emotion where he challenges preconceived notions surrounding the assumed bleakness of the dance’s subject matter and allows his music to stand effectively on its own.

In terms of the overall instrumentation and form, Music For Falling From Trees finds Broderick working in areas similar to those explored on previous albums. However, there are some important differences that distinguish this work from his earlier material, such as this time working exclusively with violin and piano -- the two instruments with which the young composer is most comfortable -- providing a sense of ease, spontaneity, and looseness that is sometimes missing from his more focused compositions. For fans of some of Broderick’s earlier material, then, these qualities, combined with the relatively narrow range of instrumentation and short duration of the album, may prove somewhat limiting and not as immediately immersive as some of his best work. But repeated listens and consideration for context aids in revealing the subtle, yet greatly emotive details that run throughout Music For Falling From Trees, resulting in moments that rank among Broderick’s best.

1. Part 1: An Introduction To The Patient
2. Part 2: Patient Observation
3. Part 3: Pill Induced Slumber
4. Part 4: The Dream
5. Part 5: Awaken/Panic/Restraint
6. Part 6: Electroconvulsive Shock
7. Part 7: The Path To Recovery

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