Field Music are less your traditional band and more a collective with members being called upon as and when they are needed. The masterminds behind the group are brothers David and Peter Brewis, hailing from Sunderland. They take an almost artistic approach to Rock and have managed to remain prevalent in the genre despite having been active for well over 10 years now.
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 the band undertook for the Imperial War Museum and were first performed at their sites in Salford and London in January 2019. The starting point was a document from the IWM collection; 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.