“So many of my peers are like cover bands of their own selves these days… I didn’t want to be a museum. So this is a kind of reinvention”: The return of Edgar Broughton

Edgar Broughton
(Image credit: Press)

It’s been more than a decade since we last heard from Edgar Broughton, but the prog-psych legend has returned with Break The Dark, out now on Esoteric. Mostly recorded at home during lockdown, and built around a series of programmed instrumental sketches, the album is something of a radical departure.

“I’ve always loved electronic music and programming and messing around with stuff,” Broughton tells Prog. “And I thought it was time to combine it all. On Break The Dark, there’s some EBow guitar and acoustic guitar, but it’s mostly keyboards. Unfortunately, so many of my peers are like cover bands of their own selves these days and I didn’t want to do that; I didn’t want to be a museum. So this is a kind of reinvention, really.”

Break The Dark sees him reunite with Edgar Broughton Band bassist Arthur Grant, plus acclaimed producer John Leckie, who took care of mixing. Leckie’s first ever job at EMI was as tape op for the EBB’s debut Wasa Wasa, back at Abbey Road in 1969. “I told John that we had a few songs and he asked me to send him a couple,” explains Broughton. “He got back and said, ‘I want to mix this, I really like it.’ That was major. And John actually sort of informed the process too.” The other significant presence is Swedish cellist Calle Arngrip, whose artful textures add light and shade to the album’s experimental edges.

Edgar Broughton - Break the Dark

(Image credit: Esoteric)

One of the standouts is Half Light, a beautifully evocative piece that feels like a meditation on mortality. Broughton wrote it for his brother and former EBB drummer Steve, who passed away last year. “The middle part of Half Life has a kind of guitar solo and a drum, almost like a ghost drummer that suddenly starts playing a second kit,” he says. “And I’ve tried to make it sound like how Steve would’ve played it. Quite heavy.”

Broughton is already looking ahead to taking the album out on the road in November, though plans are still being firmed up. “I’m going to do some gigs with my son Luke, who’ll probably play piano,” he says. “We’ll play a deconstructed version of Break The Dark. Then, if the album goes well, in April I’d love to do a small tour with Luke, Calle and maybe one other person, so that it’s more of a band thing. Let’s just see how it goes.”

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.