Following a self-imposed three year hiatus Sunderland's Field Music are set to return with a new 20 track double album “Field Music (Measure)”. Powered by brothers Pete and David Brewis Field Music have been responsible for some of the most sublime and artfully progressive pop over the last few years including 2007’s Tones of Town and 2008’s The Week That Was.
The new album is a sprawling 72 minute epic that picks up surprisingly eclectic musical threads and weaves them into something uniquely their own. If you listen closely, you might hear echoes of and allusions to the likes of Led Zeppelin, Bela Bartok, Prince, Fleetwood Mac, Miles Davis, The Beatles, Bowie, Richard Thompson, PJ Harvey, Crazy Horse, Erik Satie, Kate Bush, Talk Talk, Lou Reed, Brian Eno, The Blue Nile, Pierre Schaeffer, Roxy Music, Penguin Cafe Orchestra, Todd Rundgren and Discipline-era King Crimson.
Unlike previous Field Music albums, characterised by their precision and conceptual and sonic coherence, this new record makes no attempt to present itself as a unified whole. Themes disappear and reappear. Some songs flow together, others intrude on each other. There are contradictions and ripostes. There appears to be a great deal of defiance and a fair amount of resignation.
Can it make sense? Does it matter if there is no sense? What strands can possibly hold together the dissonant funk of 'Let's Write A Book' (a call to arms for the perpetually apologetic), the mutated blues of 'Each Time Is A New Time' (a riposte to misplaced faith in repetition), the chopping and splashing pop driven through 'Them That Do Nothing' (perhaps about a valiant willingness to make mistakes), the multilayered riffery of 'The Rest Is Noise' or the epic found-sound song cycle that starts with 'See You Later'?
Field Music produced two sublime albums of concise intricate beauty; 2005's self titled and 2007's Tones of Town. With a fiercely independent ethos which sees them run their own studio, produce, engineer and master their own albums, design their artwork and direct their own videos, the brothers, along with keyboard maestro (and now trainee chef) Andrew Moore, displayed a playful and refreshingly forward-thinking nature that won them many fans. However, having felt as though they’d worked themselves into a tight indie-band corner that would, in the long run, inhibit their creative output, they decided to call time on band activities shortly after the release of the critically garlanded Tones of Town album.
The brothers subsequently began writing and recording separately at their 8 Music studio in Sunderland. 2008 saw the release of David's School of Language album "Sea From Shore". Then came Peter's “The Week That Was” to widespread critical acclaim, even beating Tones of Town's healthy showing in previous end-of-year lists by being named in Mojo's top ten albums of 2008.
Having freed themselves from any outside or self imposed expectations, Peter and David decided to work together on a batch of songs with the intention of releasing them under the name Field Music. With the aim of making the recording process both pleasurable and productive, the brothers were less concerned about fitting their music into a traditional album format and more about recurring themes and motifs that might work and overlap across any number of tracks. The fact it ended up being a double album was if anything an incidental by-product of this mode of work.
And with the double album return of Field Music, we should rejoice that Britain can still very occasionally produce bands as joyously ambitious, as daringly dazzling, and as uncompromisingly talented as Field Music.