January 12, 2020
(Memphis Industries)A concept album viewing the last century through the filter of the first world war, Field Music’s seventh album was initially composed and performed by Peter and David Brewis for the Imperial War Museum early last year. Each of its 19 tracks reflects on a different consequence of the great war, whether in the form of societal change (council housing; female suffrage) or technological advances (in foetal medicine; the invention of sanitary towels).
Field Music: Making a New World review – a concept stronger than the songs
Such is the ambitious scope of the concept, however, that the individual songs can seem like an afterthought, eclipsed by the weight of all that they’re trying to say. I Thought You Were Something Else, for example, is a perfectly pleasant minute of instrumental loungey jazz that purports to be about a breakthrough in epidemiology in the wake of the 1919 flu pandemic, but could just as plausibly be about Aston Villa’s 1982 European Cup triumph. As a consequence, while the elastic basslines of the Talking Heads-indebted Only in a Man’s World and Money Is a Memory stand out, Making a New World works best as a single piece of music, not least because some of its interstices are too fragile to stand unaided.
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