Perhaps it’s simplifying things a little, but Dutch historian’s Johan Huizinga’s early 20th-century work ‘Man The Player’, a tale about the importance of play in personal and professional development, may well be a defining inspiration to the musical careers of Sunderland’s Mercury Prize Award-Nominated duo, Field Music.
Building their sound through the layering of multiple instruments, themselves usually played in interesting and original ways, Field Music have gained a reputation for being a collective constantly pursuing original sounds and musical atmospheres.
Given both their academic approach to sound and practical playing style, comparisons to original and idealist music producers such as Brian Eno or Lee Scratch Perry don’t appear out of place. And you know you’re on to something interesting when your new single (‘Count it Up’) is described as the sound of an ‘upside down Material Girl’.
With presentation in mind, and particularly the exhibition of new album ‘Open Here’, the band have decided to play three specially-staged performances at Newcastle’s Northern Stage venue, coinciding with the album’s release.
Recorded, filmed, and featuring an expanded orchestral line-up with strings, brass, wind and percussion, the show will attempt to provide an interesting setting for the band’s full catalogue, including new material.
Explaining the shows concept to me personally, and their choice of venue, Field Music’s very own David Brewis explained that: “I’m hoping we’ll be able to give a pretty good overview of all of the things which make Field Music an interesting live band including lots of musical ideas presented in a slightly different kind of venue.
“We chose the Northern Stage for a number of reasons; partly because we’ve already played most of the venues in the North East but predominantly because we wanted to play somewhere which felt different from a normal gig venue. We also wanted to play somewhere we could light a bit differently and which would be conducive to how many people would be onstage and to being filmed.”
Questioned about the duo’s choice to complement the core live band of Kevin Dosdale (guitar and synth), Andrew Lowther (bass) and Liz Corney (keys and vocals) with an orchestra, David took time to provide a wider context: “We’ve used a string section on every Field Music album and there’s a lot of saxophone and brass on the new one. There are certain songs which wouldn’t make much sense without those parts so it’s nice to do an expanded show occasionally. It’s our orchestra rather than a bolted-on after-the-fact thing.
“It’s also nice that when we play live we try to push ourselves and provide an audience with the chance to see a bunch of people trying to play music which is slightly beyond our collective capabilities. There’s always an element of jeopardy, which we enjoy.”
Playful and experimental to the end, the Northern Stage shows could well be a peak in the career of a musical duo that already has much to be proud of.
And no sooner after the new album is released, which is already being talked of as their best yet, the duo will be back pushing boundaries again.
Speaking to David, he let us know that Peter has been busy making a collaborative album with Sarah Hayes, who played flute on ‘Count’, whilst David has just finished mixing the next Slug album. Oh, and they’re also in the process of building a new studio. If their music and their live shows are anything to go by, you can guarantee that their studio will certainly not be traditional.
For further information about Field Music’s upcoming North East dates and release please head to field-music.co.uk.