Mary Broadcast’s EP “Panic” 

Mary Broadcast’s EP Panic reflects the Austrian born singer, songwriter, musician, and bandleader’s refusal to cookie cutter her artistic vision. She may object to the term, but Panic is a concept album built around a narrative arc extending over six songs. Broadcast includes an accompanying video for each of the EP’s six “episodes”, as she calls them, and the overall experience makes for one of the most unusually rewarding efforts in recent memory.

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The intense intimacy of the underlying story grabs your attention for a variety of reasons. The inherent drama of such a moment is more than enough to capture listeners, but its ambition cannot be ignored. Broadcast and her collaborators take on the task of exploring a woman’s miscarriage, the fallout resulting from the loss, and her efforts to rebuild her life without feeling like a cheat. She provides listeners, and viewers, with an experience that approximates such a momentous event as well as it can be done.

“Panic” serves notice that this is an uncompromising artistic work. Much of the song has a distinctly minimalist bent, but Broadcast escalates the arrangement at all the right places. The overall quality, however, is simmering – the panic of the song title percolates beneath the surf much of the time. The clip for this song is polished and atmospheric. It makes different demands on actors and actresses thanks to its lack of dialogue, but everyone is up to the task.

The piano underpinning “Zone 4” lightens its rock theatrics without ever diluting them. Given its conceptual and multi-media trappings, it isn’t surprising that Broadcast’s songwriting shares the same direction. It’s convincing and draws listeners in. “Zone 4” has some instrumentation we didn’t hear in the opener, she largely eschews the leaner approach heard during the opener and the increased guitar presence has a positive effect.

“Bastille” has a steady and irresistible pulse present through much of the song. She follows much of the same template present in the preceding song, peaking with the chorus, and it reinforces the song’s dramatic power. “Bastille” gains additional gravitas from its video. The melancholy, even bleak, color scheme for the clips continues here, but she escapes the near-claustrophobic overtones of earlier clips.

The penultimate track “Bazar” feels and sounds more like a climax than simply another turn in the EP. Its climatic qualities are unmistakable. Broadcast’s two principal on-screen performers, Clara Diem and Klemens Dellacher, turn in another fantastic performance without benefit of dialogue. Their physicality is perfect for Broadcast’s concept without ever dragging these clips into the direction of melodrama. Broadcast’s lyrics are slightly fragmentary without ever sacrificing comprehensibility.

She concludes the EP with “Aver”, an emotional outpouring with strong and pointed imagery anchoring the sometimes ephemeral feel of the arrangement. It has a near-classical feel without ever utilizing that kind of instrumentation. The video for “Aver”, likewise, does an excellent job of tying up any loose threads for viewers. It’s a satisfying conclusion for Panic that rounds off this brilliantly conceived conceptual work.

Chadwick Easton


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