In this day and age, where an artist’s merit is often judged by a snippet of an MP3, David Thomas Broughton has created an anomaly- a work that deserves your undivided attention. Spreading 5 tracks across 40 minutes, Broughton develops his eerie folk songs into epic mantras on death, war, love, and sex.
Seeking to capture the controlled chaos of David’s live show, the album was recorded in one complete take in Wrangthorn Church, Leeds, England, with minimal tweaking and tampering in the subsequent mix. The result is a truthful representation of Broughton’s music, warts and all.
The church is as integral a part of the sound as any other instrument, making its presence known in subtle ways throughout the album. Its ghostly reverb creates a solemnity and sense of isolation, and when Broughton sings “My body rots while she is weeping/And I’ll remain forever sleeping,” one can easily envision him calling from beyond the grave. The pealing church bells at Wrangthorn also create a chance moment of beauty at the end of “Unmarked Grave,” unexpectedly becoming part of Broughton’s vocal loop.
The Complete Guide to Insufficieny is comparable to such forebears as John Fahey and Nick Drake, as well as contemporaries Antony and the Johnsons and Neutral Milk Hotel, but even these comparisons don’t fully convey the scope and beauty of Broughton’s sound.
Using simple tools- an acoustic guitar, some looping pedals, a cheap drum machine - Broughton has created a singular statement of purpose and artistic intent. Long after “freak-folk” is no longer a trend, listeners will still be pulling The Complete Guide to Insufficiency off the shelf.