David Thomas Broughton: The Complete Guide to Insufficiency
Plug Research

The Complete Guide to Insufficiency departs dramatically from Plug Research's previous releases. Not only is its vocal-folk style different, but the entire album—a mere five songs spread across forty minutes—was recorded in a single take in Wrangthorn Church at Hyde Park, Leeds (though some minor tweaking and tampering was applied to the subsequent mix) which invests his unique mantras with an intimate and spontaneous feel throughout. No fades here: when the opening lament “Ambiguity” comes to an abrupt halt, “Execution,” Broughton's skewed declaration of love (“I wouldn't take her to an execution, I wouldn't take her to a live sex show…'cos I love her so”), starts immediately.

Broughton's sonic arsenal is spare to say the least: his singing accompanied by an acoustic guitar (augmented by looping pedals) and a cheap drum machine. And that voice! Idiosyncratic to say the least, it's a disarmingly hermaphroditic animal, with an alien quaver permeating its vibrato. And though the instrumental resources may be limited, he exploits them provocatively, especially at the end of “Unmarked Grave” when Wrangthorn's pealing church bells unexpectedly appear alongside his multi-layered singing (similarly hypnotic trails of vocal loops dominate the closer “Ever Rotating Sky”). Woeful dirges like “Unmarked Grave” exude a timeless folk quality as Broughton dons the guise of troubadour (“I was a solider in a far-off land / The arrow deep in my side”) or, more precisely, phantom (“My body rots while she is weeping / And I'll remain forever sleeping”). An unusual, audacious, and often haunting release.

February 2006