Welcome to brokendog.co.uk

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I am an empty paper bag, a broken dog barking at a brown moon


UK alternative band and John Peel favourites Broken Dog formed in 1994 and disbanded in 2004
In the summer of 1994 Clive Painter and Martine Roberts met and began to record and develop their songs on a worn out reel to reel machine.
Inspired by the spirit of such American luminaries as the Grifters, Swell, Pavement, Smog, Will Oldham and Guided By Voices, they set about recording what became their debut album, discovering along their colourful way a penchant for dark, brooding undertows.
Big Cat Records signed them, and their critically acclaimed self-titled album was released in November 1996.

Broken Dog disbanded in 2004 and in their ten years they released five albums and six singles/eps.
After the release of Zero, Broken Dog released Sleeve With Hearts on the Piao! label, and then signed to The Kitty Kitty Corporation and finally to Tongue Master Records.

Clive has continued to play in other bands such as The Real Tuesday Weld and in 2009 he formed The 99 Call with Paul Anderson from Tram. Clive is also known for instrumental tracks which he has released on various labels under the name 'Wolf'.

Both Clive and Martine have spent time collaborating and producing records for other bands.
Most prominently, they co-wrote with Paul And erson for his project Tram, producing a handful of singles and the much acclaimed debut album 'Heavy Black Frame'.

Martine Roberts - vocals, bass guitar, guitar, drums.

Clive Painter - guitar, bass, drums, keyboards, sound recording.


OUR RELEASES

PICTURES

REVIEWS
Live Review
Melody Maker January 18th 1997 by Mark Luffman

So named because it was the only kind of mutt not name-checked on George Clinton’s 'Atomic Dog', Broken Dog skulk onstage and start playing their breathtakingly concise catalogues of betrayal and futility. Just like that, really. No preamble. No hello. No hooray. Martine doesn’t even introduce us to 'Rachael', a voiceless muffled howl from the eye of a distant hurricane that Clive articulates with almost painfully precise patience. What a plangent plucker. Martine just throbs her way through it. She finally opens her mouth for 'I Exited', which her aristocratic Lydia Lunch singing turns into a resonating hollow boast. Gloria Gaynor grins'You seemed to think that without you I’d fall to pieces, that I don’t have a mind' It’s the sound of someone so disgusted to try to be amused, too fed up to be sickened.
Clive is pedalling his guitar into all kinds of brilliant corners, turning the atmosphere from Marianne Faithfull’s 'Broken English' to Magazine’s 'Real Life' with invisible flicks of the finger. 'Where Will You Go When There’s Nowhere Left To Go?' sounds like Nick Drake’s bleakest demos, but Broken Dog will have their day. 'Lullaby' is a goodnight song to a lover with a bellyful of pills. 'Baby I’m Lost Without You' (Broken Dog give songs the best names in the world) comes within a country mile of Moose, but quickly turns to Earth. 'I’m a waste of space' mutters Martine, and Broken Dog limp off.

Broken Dog
(Big Cat)
Ptolemaic Terrascope #25 1998 by Phil McMullen

Bittersweet melancholia from an introspective feedback-drenched London-based duo whose muse is as redolent of earthy breathlessness as their pastoral contemporaries the Stormclouds; similar vocal delivery too, handed down reverentially to Martine from an early Saint Kendra, parsed with the stillness of time and infused with the languidly eerie guitar fills of the Valentino of pop, a man named simply Clive. It always strikes me as silly to suggest you look no further than the final track, but on this occasion 'Please Decide Quickly' really has it all: mysteriously echoed, supremely languorous vocals which come swathed in white lace and patchouli, torn apart by a searing guitar line which is pure first generation Precoda. Elsewhere, the dyspeptic duo strum up a maelstrom of shimmering Grimble Grumblesque feedback on 'Season Of Blame', run through an inspired cover of the 1968 Left Banke single 'Dark Is The Bark' (one can’t help wondering if it were chosen because of the canine reference in the title; next time perhaps a Bubble Puppy song, it can be no mere coincidence that the Puppy chose their name from Aldous Huxley’s 'Brave New World' whilst Broken Dog took theirs from a libretto by Verlaine) - and curl up into a tiny, sleepy ball to whisper the achingly lo-fi 'Where Will You Go When There’s Nowhere Left To Go?' wherein the ghost of Nick Drake collides with the acid-folk of Stone Breath. There’s much more to this album than meets the ear, and indeed to Broken Dog themselves - no less than three other CD-Eps, one each from 1996,7 and 8, all released by Big Cat, all fiercely individualistic and all plangently beautiful.

Broken Dog
(Big Cat)
The Sunday Times January 12th 1997 by Stewart Lee

British boy-girl duo Broken Dog emerge from the shadows of their spiritual forebears-American acts such as Mazzy Star, Absolute Grey or Moon Seven Times-with their own compelling take on atmospheric, semi-acoustic, psychedelic folk music, not equaled on these shores since the late great Faith Over Reason. The keyboards on 'Hide Away' have a peculiarly English, early 1970s vibe, but, otherwise, here are all the genre hallmarks faultlessly reproduced-vibrating, resonant guitar, gentle ripples of percussion, haunting suspended listless female vocals and the occasional lurch into effects-pedal overdrive adding light and shade. While Mazzy Star sometimes stretch simple melodies into expansive cosmic jams, Broken Dog throw away in three minutes ideas that would sustain their peers for whole albums. Maybe 14 songs in 40 minutes is half a dozen too many for the average lonely late-night listening classic, but, at worst, this is an embarrassment of riches.

Broken Dog
(Big Cat)
Bridlington Gazette & Herald October 10th 1996 by Steve Petch

If you plan to become deranged, then this is the way to do it. Deliciously pleasant and full of anguished fun, Broken Dog have unleashed (geddit?) a monster. It’s hard to believe they are a duo. How can only two people create so much enjoyment? Especially when one of them is called Clive! A bit like the Cocteau Twins in places their songs are often musically minimalist, yet contained within the loosely structured confines there remains a rather attractive atmosphere. Haunting almost. There are some good tunes here too. It’s one of those albums you can listen to several times and find something new on each occasion. A very successful, very enjoyable debut, I reckon.

Broken Dog
(Big Cat)
Q Magazine November 1996 by Martin Aston

Signings to London indie Big Cat tend to be American, and Broken Dog certainly sound in cahoots with the lo-fi brigade across the Atlantic. But the duo of Martine and Clive are definitely British, though they hold a Yankophile candle primarily for the desolate attic seclusion of LA’s Mazzy Star-not only for their boy-girl duo set-up and song-titular similarities ('Where Will You Go When There’s Nowhere Left To Go?', 'Baby I’m Lost Without You', 'Lullaby', et al) but the stripped-back, druggy dynamic, Broken Dog are, nevertheless, a warped, experimental version of Mazzy Star, interrupting the latter’s seamless dreaminess with haphazard guitar fuzz, awkward rhythms and an air of increasing dislocation.

Broken Dog
(Big Cat)
Melody Maker 23rd November 1996 by Jennifer Nine

Broken Dog aren’t going anywhere, by the sound of it. Not on foot. Nowhere you could find on an AA road map. Just everywhere you can yearn for, half seen, out of your bedroom window. Which is why, if this secret and bittersweet debut album from the mysterious London duo of Martine and Clive had a smell, it’d be as fragrant as night-scented stock; addictive as wet leaves and moss; sweet as a lungful of cold air.
It’s stealthy, careless, as exhaustedly bitter as it is consolatory; a rippling haze of clandestine guitars and nameless instruments splintering into the star patterns woven on broken glass, as the whole of it hovers up into the trees. Martine’s deadpan vocals sound like MBV’s Belinda-half-breathed, half-sung-or sometimes are calmly pitying like Telstar Ponies’ resident angel. The weary, uneasy twangs rippling over the surface of 'I Existed' sound like country music from a planet with five times our gravity and an iron deficiency severe enough to provoke visions of rapture.
It’s lo-fi, of course-which makes me wonder whether the Fostex R8 hasn’t done more for music of late than 40 years of Les Pauls-and it’s blessed (as on 'Season Of Blame') with the most languorous of Labradford-isms. With blues learnt by heart and forgotten; with the frizzle of feedback hovering between the here and the thereafter. With a delicate 'Stay On My Side', whose heartless edge and skittering strings sting like insects; with the drone of 'Lullaby' swollen with disquiet; with a cover of the Left Banke’s 'Dark Is The Bark' that sounds like The Beach Boys melting, drowning.
If there’s any clamour here, it’s in the way each song demands praise all its own, from the spiteful cymbals and single chords of 'Baby I’m Lost Without You' to the frail, parchment-like vocals of 'Please Decide Quickly' in which Martine sounds like she’s already a million miles away. 'Where Will You Go When There’s Nowhere Left To Go?' ask Broken Dog. Out the window. Into the trees. Toward the stars.

Broken Dog
(Big Cat)
NME November 16th 1996 by Dele Fadele

LO-FIDELITY experimentation is a trial at the best of times. Although intended to define groups as outsiders in the commercial drowning pool of the music business, what it usually amounts to, with a few exceptions, is a load of bull’s gonads. But when your as sussed and downright perverse as London’s Broken Dog, scaling down your songs and recording them as if through a thick layer of gauze can be a liberating experience.
Martine and Clive are a duo who seem to mimic the effects of a drunken stupor with a slow music that crawls, lurches and seems to be missing a center of gravity. If Angelo Badalamenti’s Twin Peaks soundtrack was made with a non-existent budget and shredded in the process, then stuck back together, maybe it would approach the askew moods here. Strictly speaking, Martine is not a singer, but her semi-spoken half-whispers perfectly compliment the sometimes liquid, sometimes distorted, always well-scored backings.
The main sense here is one of unease, like a disintegrating relationship or something lurking in the darkness just out of reach. Romantic ditties like the fraught 'Lullaby' are perfectly balanced with quasi-feminist tracks like the declamatory 'I Existed', but there are always hints that something’s not quite right.
The intimate settings of the terror-struck 'Hide Away' and the pressure involved in 'Where Will You Go When There’s Nowhere Left To Go?' all point to withdrawn, almost agoraphobic types who have retreated to their bedrooms and locked out the world. But then comes the sucker punch as the sweetly melodic music suggests they in fact want the world to come to them, albeit on their own difficult terms.

Trails
(Big Cat)
Scratching Post September 1997 by Dr. G

Okay, so this was released around June time. But if you can still get hold of it, then please do. The title track is a short song that leaves you wanting to hear a 10 minute version of it, with it’s upliftingly relaxed guitar and beautiful lyrics, whilst the other 3 tracks meander along and leave you as pleased as punch. Very short single of the year.

Trails
(Big Cat)
Melody Maker June 21st 1997 by Mark Luffman

For a very short second 'Trails' seems to be setting out as a sing-along. But by the end of the first line, we know where we’re always going with BD. In the looking glass, reflecting. 'I think I mostly just dream' they murmur, and instantly make the Nineties soundtrack to the idyllic escape scenes from 'Performance', where Edward Fox seems to enter a different world just by walking down a dozen stairs-so close to home, so foreign. Four walls do not a prison make, and Broken Dog are in a room of their own. 'Trails' isn’t much more than two minutes long, but how long do you need to fall in love? No longer than you do to fall out of love. Broken Dog know it-they limp a fine line.

Safety In Numbers
(Big Cat)
BB17 July 1998 by unknown

Another fine band on the Big Cat label then. Broken Dog are destined for bigger and brighter things and as a starter 'Safety In Numbers' is a beautiful beginning. Boasting a lushious chorus and gloriously laid back guitars this is one of the best singles released thus far this year. What’s more I’ve also got the album and that is equally as stunning. Get your ears around this lot sooner rather than later. It is that good.

Safety In Numbers
(Big Cat)
Footloose July 29th 1998 by Andy Basire

More Lo-fi noodling around from Broken Dog duo Martine and Clive, the lead track and little-known Kinks classic 'Lazy Old Sun' effortlessly evoking sun-drenched summer meadows whilst the overall vibe (six tracks spread over 17 minutes odd), manages to be simultaneously woozy, happy and a little bit disturbing.

Zero
(Big Cat)
Melody Maker September 12th 1998 by Jennifer Nine

Strangely, if you take Broken Dog’s magical second album of secret lullabies and slow, gently crackling post-rock off the hi-fi and put on anything by Low, slow-core’s almost ridiculously bashful American gold standard…in fact, Low sounds louder. And when you consider they rose to semi-obscurity with the frozen wastes of Duluth, Minnesota, to inspire their near-silence, while Broken dog’s Clive (plangent sounds) and Martine (regretful voice) sculpt their ice cathedrals out of north London’s clatter, the luminous 'Zero' is all the more - quietly, of course - astonishing.
But its dreamlike volume, or lack thereof, still isn’t as remarkable - unless you’re a sound engineer that is - as the intuitive delicacy with which Broken Dog paint such big blue pictures on such translucent canvas, apparently only just remembering each consolatory note the instant it issues forth.
From a drifting 'Iceberg' made of strings tuning up in empty rooms to the diaphanous guitars and shyly subliminal noise-scribbles of 'In A Head' to the fond wink of 'Still Here?' and a pulsingly abstract hidden track that cranks the volume up to, oh, at least three, this is haze and shimmer of the highest order. Add some unhesitatingly affecting melodies - a soaring, harmonium-and-acoustic 'New Year' or a piano-stitched, secretly amused 'laughing Girl' - and you’ll wonder why everyone else is shouting.
Shhhh. Listen.

Zero
(Big Cat)
City Lights August 1st 1998 by Marcie

Broken Dogs haunting melodic cocktails ooze out of their new album 'Zero' with as much smoothness as Piers Brosnan riding that bike in that James Bond movie. Oh yes this is as smooth as Massive Attack, with the intelligence of Bjork. Songs like Laughing Girl, are so melodically poignant and rise above the hard core crap of today’s society. Close your eyes and feel yourself float above the world until you are merely an observer and have no links with insanity. The album is tight and flows exceptionally well, sliding from one enchantment to another. Running out in the Wild, runs away with your imagination. You’ll listen to this so many times that you’ll meet yourself coming back. It rarely gets harder than cotton, but cotton’s more comfortable than wool, don’t ya think?

Zero
(Big Cat)
Norwich Evening News July 31st 1998 by unknown

What a horrid listening experience this turned out to be. Maybe I should have been warned off by the first track "Iceberg" which was two minutes and three seconds of a cello sliding up and down the scale. But it got worse, with every song littered by an unharmonious clash of guitars and strings topped by a girlie singer with an annoying whispery voice. The last track is titled 'Still Here?' to which the answer must be: Sorry, gave up long ago.

Zero
(Big Cat)
Leeds Guide July 1998 by Ian W

Taking their name from an unpublished Verlaine libretto ('I’m an empty paper bag, a broken dog barking at a brown moon'), this is their second full LP for Big Cat records. A curious mixture of breathless vocals, eerie guitar and unearthly psychedelic noises, Zero is melancholy, lonesome and strangely hypnotic. You’ll find yourself singing words that you hadn’t even realised you’d heard. Fragile and beautiful. Superb.

Sleeve With Hearts
(Piao!)
Magnet - the year in music 1999

Hidden Treasures - 10 great albums buried in '99

Since the Cowboy Junkies and Mazzy Star have been spotted hanging out at the recycling center, it's up to England's Broken Dog to carry the torch for glacially paced psych/folk. Vocalist Martine Roberts makes you believe every exhalation might be her last, and Clive Painter adds just enough guitar to the canvas. Is this music or is it an oil painting? Either way, this is art in the most literal sense.

Sleeve With Hearts
(Piao!)
Mojo February 2000 by Joe Cushley

Delicate third album from wizards of wistfulness.

Many bands loosely gathered under the new acoustic banner seem to be gravitating towards silence. Broken Dog are one of the most complex and interesting of that ilk. Predictably, they are useless live, but Sleeve With Hearts is a beauteous, finely woven (if faded) tapestry. The opening song Tracks sets the tone. An entropic drum-beat (any slower and the world would stop turning) is dusted with gently dissonant trumpet and guitar played so reticently you can hear Clive Painter deliberately missing the strings. Ghosting through this mix Martine Roberts' breathy tones remind you of an anglicised Julee Cruise (David Lynch's chanteuse fatale).Variations on these themes constantly replenish the quiet pleasures of the piece (hypnotic banjo on Drink Was The Height Of The Day, ethereal Theremin on They Were Real). On Got No Wings, Roberts is 'Worried about heaven and hell and which would be worse'. She should sleep easy.

Sleeve With Hearts
(Piao!)
NME October 26th 1999 by Stevie Chick

For several years now they've lurked in the shadows, eking out a hushed, incandescent, mournful folk. Like spirits of the forest, theirs was a slight, deliciously fragile magic; their previous two albums scurrying from lo-fi boughs, so skittish and otherworldly you feared they'd melt under focus.
Mercifully brief period sans label brings us to 'Sleeve With Hearts', Broken Dog's third, and finest, album. And while the songs still feel hazy, as if their melodies were drawn from some waking dream, the duo have rarely sounded so well defined. No longer do the songs sound as if they are having to traverse some prohibitive crisis of confidence to reach their audience, although many, 'Stranger' in particular, recall Nick Drake lost in some immaculately opiated glide.
The instrumentation this time around stretches wider, from piercing strokes of brass on 'Tracks', to the lush orchestration of the sublime 'Third In Space'. The song writing, too, is noticeably more accessible, more 'developed', though these things are always relative - the best of this album sounding like Belly's more obtuse meanderings, further obscured.
The magic of Broken Dog, however, withstands these new developments; Martine Roberts' chillingly pure vocal still sounds like leaves floating on a river on an eerily still summer's afternoon. Immerse yourself.

Anchor
(the Kitty Kitty corporation)
NME
by James Oldham

Broken Dog have been making music that sounds like it's full of valium since 1996. A duo comprising of Martine Roberts (off-key singing) and Clive Painter (wobbly instruments), 'Anchor' is their first release on Quickspace's Kitty Kitty label, and it adheres to their woozy blueprint of fragile acoustics and droning rhythms. The B-side - a barely-there cover of The Left Banke's 'Sing Little Bird Sing' - somehow succeeds in making that sound like AC/DC which - believe us - is really saying something.

Brighter Now
(the Kitty Kitty corporation)
Ptolemaic Terrescope
Number 31 - Winter 2001/2 by Tony Dale

'Brighter Now' is the forth album (hard to believe!) by the North London duo of Martine Roberts and Clive Painter, who have dreamed one giant flowing stream of bliss since around 1996, and surely helped more than one soul retain it's equlibrium under the duress of the everyday. Their singular gift seems to be the ability to marry the independent musical cinema of Americans like Mazzy Star, the Cowboy Junkies and Low to the kind of dense orchestrated studio-craft of the Slowdive and Loveless-period My Bloody Valentine. They'd probably kill me for the reference, but Julee Cruise is definetely echoed by Martine's vocals, if not instrumentally. Things are not hurried here, and that is a good thing.
'The Sleepers Sleep' fairly barrels along for a Broken Dog song , although the subject matter insures it functions as a lullaby anyway. 'How Can I Explain?' is the pure narcotic deal, waves of gauze needing to be fought through to reach the shadowy figure at the end of it and lift her veil. The ironic dismissal of the Drake legacy (it's 'Brighter Now' not 'Brighter Layter' they are surely conveying with the title) does not convince us here as their tracks in the snow follow Drake's until they are erased by the wind. Their confidence and distance travelled are evident on the extraordinary 'Home is a Crevice in the Grass' (look, I'm not even going to try and picture that), where angel vocals float over an exquisite lounge-jazz arrangement for keyboards, guitars and trumpet and I'm put in mind of Movietone's superb 'Day and Night' record a few years back. Their is a quiet intensity to 'Memory Lanes' that builds from the insistance of Clive Painter's guitar orchestrations and rides the cold fire of Martine's vocals. It's beautiful and feverish like the last moments of a nightclub in a city on fire. Orchestrating touches are the key on 'Brighter Now', like the clarinet on 'Brilliant Things' every touch is fated and significant. Despite when you might expect from a band lumped in the lo-fi, this record is beautifully recorded at their own Animal studios, and polished of in the mastering suite at Abbey Road. Sonically it is a trip, as befits a band that one imagines in the guise of house band for the Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Ready yourself for starburst.

Brighter Now
(the Kitty Kitty corporation)
Playlouder
by Nik Moore

Whilst the Velvet Underground seems to be the favourite act on everyone's lips for the purpose of comparison to the Noo Wave from the states - often, no doubt, from people who wouldn't know a Velvet Underground song if it bit them on their Strokes T-shirt - I'm afraid that this writer must, once again, use the band's music as a reference point.
The gently strumming guitar - with just a soupcon of feedback - accompanying Martine Roberts' forlorn voice throughout 'Brighter Now' is just so reminiscent of Nico's offering of barbed poetry drifting across the ill-controlled crescendo behind her, soft eerie numbers swirling around the room, desperate to sink their ice-crystal claws into something solid, but drifting away, not quite finding their grip, fading away before the next gentle assault on the ears tumbles from the speakers.
After the lack of recognition on their previous label - the admirable, but toothless, Piao! - this, their fourth album, should see them climb from the file marked 'Cranes/Sundays: Whatever happened to...?' and establish themselves as a more recognisable feature on the English music map.

I bet if they were from Detroit we'd hear more about them...

Brighter Now
(the Kitty Kitty corporation)
The Sunday Times
by Mark Edwards

It's a brave band that will so obviously refer to a Nick Drake album title, given that Drake is currently riding high in both the Most Often Refered To As An Influence and the Current Reputation Dwarfs Actual Success charts; but Broken Dog are clearly confident enough to update Bryter Layter as Brighter Now. Mind you, the music doesn't suggest that it is even slightly brighter now. Fragile, vulnerable and just plain sad, the songs seem to concern a life of missed opportunities. What makes it all work is Martine Roberts' voice - exactly halfway between breathing and singing - Clive Painter's guitar-playing, extraordinarily muscular for such quiet slo-core fare, and the naggingly addictive way Broken Dog's psych-folk is played with the exaggerated determination of a sitcom drunk trying to get his keys in the front door.

Brighter Now
(the Kitty Kitty corporation)
Bleedmusic
by Chris Houghton

You emerge from the rubble more alive than you began. You begin to see dizzy lights emerge from the distant corners of your eyes. Colours bleed into mindmelts, ambiguities smear into stark truths and you start to wonder precisely why more bands don't have such haunted and heightened pace, this easy shadow-boxer grace.
'Brighter Now' is the fourth album of stormy slowcore from Broken Dog, the fantastically fluid duo of Martine Roberts and Clive Painter. It works because they sound like they're doing you a favour by being here. The likes of 'Home Is A Crevice In The Grass', with it's lilted Galexie 500 beauty boldly adhorned with a jazzy sense of sensibility, and the distant twinkle of 'Memory Lanes', so somnolent you get the impression you could bulldoze through on a HGV and it'd still lay prettily in the corner laying pirouettes on your synapses. Roberts' breathy inflections are the key: both broad and brittle, vibrant and verdant, instant and eerie simultaneously, when she wiggles her tongue you step into a trance: and the music does her justice with a glorious strut of understated sonic invention, and a sense of pride, aplomb, and sheer style absent from the timid trickle of the UK underground in 2001.
Implicite somewhere herein, I'm sure, is that they then ask you to turn pop's denial of truth, it's lust for the blurring of lines into spiderwebs, into an absolute. And for once, it isn't a paradox, just another bootstomp on for this all-consuming, total triumph.

Brighter Now
(the Kitty Kitty corporation)
Substance
by Lucy Hurst

Listening to Broken Dog is like being borne away on little white fluffy clouds. Martine Roberts' breathy off-kilter vocals linger above the stripped down guitar, with jarring harmonies in songs like 'Home Is A Crevice In The Grass', which is virtually an avant-jazz number with trumpets and piano. The album flutters between pretty ballads (envoking bands like Sixpence None The Richer - and I mean that in a good way, Low and Empress) and full on indie-pop numbers (echoing bands like the Aislers Set) with fluidity and ease. Broken Dog have been around for a number of years and have built up a reputation on the live circuit but this time around they want to take center stage. This album definately brings them out of their shell. If quiet is the new loud, the Broken Dog are shouting from the rooftops.

Brighter Now
(the Kitty Kitty corporation)
NME

Sensitive indie from perennial underachievers by Kitty Empire

No, not Backyard Dog, but Broken Dog; neither 'bad' nor 'ruff', but a rather more skinny, sad-eyed and lost breed.
Broken Dog's Clive Painter and Martine Roberts are a sensitive pair who've tenderly eked out a non-career at the smudged margins of London sadcore. They used to prop up the only-fractionally-less-obscure Tram, and 'Brighter Now', presumably a reference to Nick Drake's seminal 'Bryter Layter', is their fourth, home-produced album of frail, hazy mood music.
Such a delicate undertaking can only work by stealth. 'The Sleepers Sleep' wanders off in a pastoral direction, all chiming guitar and spangly atmospherics, Martine's tremulous tones burbling what might be a fable. This slightness gracefully gives way to more tangled orchestration, as though the elderflower wine were finally kicking in. The excellent 'How Can I Explain?' is a dreamy, fearful swoon, like My Bloody Valentine slumbering in a field of violets; after this, the album features petal-soft near-psychedelia, some sour times and even two tunes about drinking.
But for all the heady charm and intense subtlety at work here, there's a great deal of treacle and torpor too. Broken Dog have one mood: melancholy, and one vision: blured. Lying down, it's an appealing combination. Upright, however, 'Brighter Now' looks a little one-dimensional.

Harmonia
(Tongue Master Records)
The Sunday Times
by Dan Cairns - 2/3

The day a shoe-gazing indie band who write ethereal songs about love and ennui (delivered with spooky emotional detachment) set these to anything other than shimmering, filigreed guitar and wheezing keyboards will be the day we know the revolution is nigh. But who needs something as untidy and inconvenient as revolution when you can have Clive Painter and Martine Roberts, back with a fifth helping of coffin-table music that is as beautiful and sepulchral as much determinedly insular music can be? So delicate it seems to leave only a trace of chill breath on your neck, '' Harmonia '' is almost certainly embedding itself slowly but surely in your unconscious. '' Don't sing to me, don't let that sweetness near. '' intones Roberts, doing precisely what she cautions against. Wonderful.

Harmonia
(Tongue Master Records)
Uncut
by Jennifer Nine - 3/5

Dreamy lo-fi duo deliver diaphanous career-best
One suspects, frankly, that fans of the diffident lower-case furrow ploughed by introspective boy-girl combos ever since Fraser and Guthrie first sculpted with powdered sugar and Hope Sandoval whipped her minions to attention will happily buy this noise by the filmy yard. Londoners Clive Painter (honeyed guitars) and Martine Roberts (breathily sotto voice) have always met audience expectations, but their fifth outing as Broken Dog sees them surpass their dreamy brief with shy aplomb, undercutting lassitude with uneasiness ('' I'll Think Of It Today ''), icy starlight with scratchy dissonance ('' Alone With A Pounding Heart'') and, in the full-blooded swell of '' Waiting For Something Big '', a glorious glimpse of May sunshine through those wistful, wintry skies.

Harmonia
(Tongue Master Records)
Logo
by Alan Downes - 4.5/5

Those drawn by lovely, lonely, trance-inducing melancholy will be thrilled at the return of Broken Dog following a two year hiatus. In the interim Clive Painter and Martine Roberts have been busying themselves raising the likes of (The Real) Tuesday Weld, Sigmatropic and Monograph to higher planes, returning with an all-too-short (38 minute) set of twitchy noir, otherwordly ethereality and rumbling threnody. Roberts' perpetually erotic baby-doll voice takes centre stage, but the real stars are Painter's vivid, multi-instrumental constructions; intricately folded, almost symphonic pieces that aren't so much arranged as forced into strangely-shaped boxes - one minute evoking a colliery band, the next decamping to Twin Peaks. Remarkably - for this is their fifth album - they're still revealing untapped potential. Wow.

Harmonia
(Tongue Master Records)
Metro
by Claire Allfree - 3/5

Broken Dog are at the intersection of avant-abient and neo-folk music, drifting slow-mo acoustic across hushed electronica and the celestial effect that sounds like the dreams of sleeping children. Lifting them above the sludge of similar bands is outstanding vocalist Martine Roberts, who recalls Hope Sandoval and Stina Nordenstam but also survives with her own persona intact. Harmonia is the London band's fifth album and, alongside more mainstream bandssuch as Zero 7, sounds almostperversely uncommercial. Lovely, if only for those late nights when you can't listen to anything else.

Harmonia
(Tongue Master Records)
What's On
by John Coleman - 4/5

If Broken Dog's Clive Painter and Martine Roberts were from a hip backwater in the States they would be much bigger, after five albums, than they are now. Their collective vision is one that walks the same meloncholy dirt roads populated by the likes of Low and Mazzy Star. Multi-instrumentalist Clive paints the musical backdrop with brushed guitars and swathes of psychedelic Harmonium effects while Martine's haunting, breathy vocals add colour to the picture. Broken Dog create a wall of sound in much the same way that Phil Spector or Kevin Shields and My Bloody Valentine do. Yet, theirs is a more gentle, folkier approach. The emotional impact is just the same though, with tunes like the beauteous, brass-tinged 'I Do Not Trouble', or 'Alone With A Pounding Heart' which brings to mind the atmospheric, cinematic vision of early Goldtrapp. The country-tinged 'Waiting For Something Big' and the sublime 'Radios' have a stark and mysterious beauty. The darkly gothic 'I'll Think Of It Today' is harmonia's finest moment in a collection of nine near-perfect tracks.

Harmonia
(Tongue Master Records)
TNT
by Will Fulford-Jones - 6/10

You may have a record a little like this already. Most likely, it's a record by Mazzy Star, to whose gauzey atmospherics Clive Painter and Martine Roberts owe a substantial debt. Roberts is no Hope Sandoval, either vocally or lyrically (Origin is Unknown the worst offender on both counts), but for the most part, that's just fine; her slightly frayed voice suits the crackle of I'll Think of it Today and, especially, the slow burn of Words to a tee.


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