Field Music share “Do You Read Me?”, the new single taken from the forthcoming new album Making A New World, a 19 track song cycle about the after-effects of the First World War. Released through Memphis Industries this Friday (10th January), the album grew from a project the band undertook for the Imperial War Museum and was first performed at their sites in Salford and London earlier this year. But it is not an album about war and it is not, in any traditional sense, an album about remembrance.
“Do You Read Me?” references the first transmission of a human voice from an inflight plane to a ground controller in 1917 over the battlefields of the First World War. David Brewis: “I imagined these moments of freedom a pilot flying above the fighting must have felt but at the same time, in order to make it safe, to make it work, he had to be tied down by these radio transmissions from the ground. It’s a bit of wishful thinking.”
Watch the video for ‘Do You Read Me?’ – BELOW:
The starting point for Making a New World 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 11 am on 11th November 1918, and the minute immediately after. One minute of oppressive, juddering noise and one minute of near-silence.
There are songs here about air traffic control and gender reassignment surgery. There are songs about Tiananmen Square and about ultrasound, about Becontree Housing Estate and about sanitary towels.
And 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.
This is Field Music’s first true concept album. It’s also their first record, at least since 2007’s Tones of Town, which really is a “band” album. While most of Field Music’s output has been pieced together primarily by brothers Peter and David Brewis, with a supporting cast dropping in to add finishing touches, the basic tracks for Making A New World were recorded in two full run-throughs by the Field Music live band – Liz Corney on keyboards, Kevin Dosdale on guitar and Andrew Lowther on bass, with Peter and David on guitar and drums respectively – in a single day, following the final performance at IWM London.
Field Music will be performing Making a New World in its entirety, with each song accompanied by visuals created by the band’s Kevin Dosdale. There will also be a bonus set of classics from the Field Music oeuvre.
FIELD MUSIC UK TOUR DATES
31 Jan – Kendal, Brewery Arts Centre
01 Feb – Glasgow, Kelvingrove Art Gallery
21 Feb – Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
22 Feb – Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
27 Feb – Whitley Bay, Playhouse
28 Feb – Manchester, Dancehouse
29 Feb – London, EartH
Tickets available from www.field-music.co.uk/live
In addition, Field Music will be heading out to play in association with some of the UK’s finest record shops:
09 Jan – Liverpool, Phase One instore
10 Jan – Manchester, Piccadilly Records outstore at Soup Kitchen
11 Jan – Edinburgh, outstore at The Mash House
15 Jan – London, Rough Trade East instore
16 Jan – Bristol, Rough Trade Bristol instore
17 Jan – Brighton, Resident Music instore
19 Jan – Newcastle, Reflex outstore at The Cluny
Making a New World is available to pre-order on gatefold limited edition transparent red vinyl, CD and digital. Head HERE for all options.