Field Music — Making a New World (Jan. 10, 2020)
° Shromážděná díla Petra a Davida Brewise. Jak všichni dnes víme, je sto let od doby, kdy vstoupila v platnost Versaillská smlouva, a v kouzelném kousku kosmického uspořádání jsme náhodou označili tuto příležitost vydáním našeho nového alba „Making a New World“. 19 skladeb o dopadech první světové války, které vyplynuly z loňské provize v Imperial War Museum. Je to nahrávka, zahrnující předměty, jako jsou hygienické ručníky, rekonstrukční chirurgie, reparace, Becontree (Θ) Housing Estate a vše mezi tím. K dispozici na průhledném červeném vinylu a CD. Poznámka (Θ): Becontree je okres a velké sídliště o rozloze přibližně 10 km2 v londýnské čtvrti Barking a Dagenham. Nachází se 11 km na severovýchod od Charing Cross a bylo postaveno v meziválečném období jako největší sídliště na světě. Zákon o bydlení z roku 1919 umožnil London County Council stavět bydlení mimo County London a Becontree bylo postaveno v letech 1921 až 1935 na principech chalupy ve farnostech Barking, Dagenham a Ilford, poté v Essexu. Oficiální dokončení panství bylo slaveno v roce 1935 s populací asi 100 000 lidí v 26 000 domovech. (viz spodní obrázek)
Location: Sunderland, UK
Album release: January 10, 2020
Record Label: Memphis Industries
01. Sound Ranging 0:56
02. Silence 0:41
03. Coffee or Wine 3:04
04. Best Kept Garden 2:54
05. I Thought You Were Something Else 1:12
06. Between Nations 4:06
07. A Change of Heir 2:39
08. Do You Read Me? 4:21
09. From a Dream, Into My Arms 1:21
10. Beyond That of Courtesy 2:13
11. A Shot To The Arm 2:33
12. A Common Language Pt 1 2:02
13. A Common Language Pt 2 0:32
14. Nikon Pt 1 2:35
15. Nikon Pt 2 0:55
16. If The Wind Blows Towards The Hospital 1:28
17. Only In a Man’s World 2:46
18. Money Is a Memory 3:33
19. An Independent State 2:41
℗ 2020 Memphis Industries
Words by Joe Goggins. Score: 7
° This seventh album from Field Music will be released ten days into the new twenties, which may have been a strategic move. They might, in ten years’ time, be able to claim it was the best concept record about war released that decade, which they wouldn’t have been able to say if it had arrived in 2019 because PJ Harvey put Let England Shake out in 2011. Making a New World emerged from a commission from the Imperial War Museum, and has blossomed into an album that the Brewis brothers themselves would be at pains to point out is not about war but rather the mundanity of its consequences.
° Where Harvey’s masterpiece so intangibly evoked the quiet horror of the intrinsic link between battle and the British identity, Field Music zero~in on hyper~specifics, meaning we get tracks like ‘Money Is a Memory’, which conjures the administrative side of the fulfilment, in 2010 (!), of Germany’s final World War I reparation payment, or ‘A Change of Heir’, which reflects on show the brutality of combat effectively necessitated the invention of skin grafts. It’s a beguiling listen in that regard, and there’s a minimalism to the palette that they’re painting with that almost suggests they’re happy for the ideas to do the talking; quiet ambience defines the instrumentals of ‘A Common Language’, whilst even the barbed likes of ‘Beyond That of Courtesy’ are subtle in their spikiness. It takes a band well~versed in nuance to pull off a project of this sophistication — which is probably why the museum approached Field Music in the first place.
° Field Music’s new release is “Making A New World”, a 19 track song cycle about the after~effects of the First World War. But this is not an album about war and it is not, in any traditional sense, an album about remembrance. There are songs here about air traffic control and gender reassignment surgery. There are songs about Tiananmen Square and about ultrasound. There are even songs about Becontree Housing Estate and about sanitary towels.
° The songs grew from a project for the Imperial War Museum and were first performed at their sites in Salford and London in January 2019. The starting point was an image from a 1919 publication on munitions by the US War Department, made using “sound ranging”, a technique that utilised an array of transducers to capture the vibrations of gunfire at the front. These vibrations were displayed on a graph, similar to a seismograph, where the distances between peaks on different lines could be used to pinpoint the location of enemy armaments. This particular image showed the minute leading up to 11am on 11th November 1918, and the minute immediately after. One minute of oppressive, juddering noise and one minute of near~silence. “We imagined the lines from that image continuing across the next hundred years,” says the band’s David Brewis, “and we looked for stories which tied back to specific events from the war or the immediate aftermath.” If the original intention might have been to create a mostly instrumental piece, this research forced and inspired a different approach. These were stories itching to be told.
° The songs are in a kind of chronological order, starting with the end of the war itself; the uncertainty of heading home in a profoundly altered world (“Coffee or Wine”). Later we hear a song about the work of Dr Harold Gillies (the shimmering ballad, “A Change of Heir”), whose pioneering work on skin grafts for injured servicemen led him, in the 1940s, to perform some of the very first gender reassignment surgeries. We see how the horrors of the war led to the Dada movement and how that artistic reaction was echoed in the extreme performance art of the 60s and 70s (the mathematical head~spin of “A Shot To The Arm”). And then in the funk stomp of Money Is A Memory, we picture an office worker in the German Treasury preparing documents for the final instalment on reparation debts — a payment made in 2010, 91 years after the Treaty of Versailles was signed. A defining, blood~spattered element of 20th century history becomes a humdrum administrative task in a 21st century bureaucracy.