Words by the ever erudite Adam Turner.
Stations, by Field Works, is an experimental and concept heavy album in two parts – but the listener shouldn’t be put off by the intellectual and academic ideas behind it. The first part comprises of recordings made by producer Stuart Hyatt in association with the National Geographic Society and The Anchorage Museum – where microphones and ground recording devices were used to capture the sound of the Earth at a variety of “stations”. The sounds from these field locations have been adorned with human voices, all sorts of human voices – choral sounds, harmonic humming in unison, coos and oohs and ahhs, laughs and coughs – vocal contributions from an all-star cast – all singing along with the emissions from the Earth itself. The ten tracks, Stations 1 to 10, are at a sweet spot between ambient, found sound, and wordless instrumentals. It is completely absorbing, with moments of genuine beauty, and best played as one piece, ten tracks flowing one after the other, organic, accessible and enveloping.
The second part is ten “Peer Reviews” of the previous tracks (remixes in other words) from Deantoni Parks, Green-House, Olga Wojciechowska, Afrodeutsche, Nathan Fake, Ben Chatwin, Sophia Loizou, Amulets, Penelope Trappes, and Alva Noto. These Peer Reviews are a different take on the stations, with further natural elements added – for example, birdsong and running water – along with other musical instruments – xylophones and music boxes, some strings too. Afrodeutsche brings in a skittering beat and pushes things into laptop dance music territory, the heavily FX-ed voices sounding like ghostly glitches. Nathan Fake fastens a thumping kick drum and some synths, cavernous reverb and taut dynamics that you could also definitely dance to, and over six minutes slowly builds Station 5 into really wigged out electronica. Ben Chatwin’s review is all drones and white noise, a sound sculpture. Penelope Trappes manipulates and bends the source material to create eight minutes of ambient bliss. Music that started as recordings inside the ground and then had that most human element – the voice – added, is turned into something else again. It’s all quite the trip.
Field Works` Stations will be released by Temporary Residence on April 1st.