Broken DC’s latest offering is almost too beautiful to have come from a city as brutal and relentless as London. There’s plenty of howling noise in their twin guitar work, sure, but it’s all presented with such poise and delicacy, you barely dare breathe for fear of destroying it. Sonically, they’re like a wonderful meeting between Slint, Mogwai, Disintegration-era Cure and Cocteau Twins, the ethereal, will o’ the wisp vocals of the latter mirrored in their most measured moments. And yet they’re very much their own band.
It’s an almost visual experience, which makes sense as Astragal takes its title from French-Algerian author Albertine Sarrazin’s novel of the same name, a celebration of rebellion, love and survival that inspired Patti Smith to become a musician. And so when a lonely violin keens on Namer Of Clouds, a wild, unpopulated landscape leaps into the imagination, while the sense of isolation deepens further on the desolate Forever Blue.
Hollow Tree, with its raspy, roughshod vocals, breaks off into shards of guitar that crash around the listener like
broken glass. This is post-rock at its smartest, revealing a little more with each listen.