BACK in spring we both reviewed and adored an album from Field Works: less a band, more a collective exploration of the various musics that cross over and find each other out on the edges of their respective stylistic disciplines, fuse, enter the wider sphere of the ambient, all overseen by Indianapolis multidisciplinary artist and Grammy nominee Stuart Hyatt.
That album was entitled Cedars, was hugely arboreally concerned, and fused the warm glow of cosmic Americana with Western ambient and Middle Eastern influences, layering pedal steel, banjo, oud, and hurdy-gurdy atop guitar drones to create a blissful, complex sonic space; all garlanded with Arabic (the first side) and English poetry (the second): a song cycle examining the planet’s ancient forests and our relationship to them.
We said of the album upon its March release that: “It’s quite a record – two records really; the first more orange and the other hues of the sun’s framing of the beginning and the ending of the day, alive with a heartfelt yearning and cosmic sonic thrill. The second is far more verdant, deep green, homespun, and focuses in very much in on the wonder of the simple; the moments we all return to, perhaps, at least us rural dwellers.
“If you’re at all conceptually familiar with the work of William Blake, his Songs Of Innocence And Experience, you’ll see a parallel here; the twining and correspondences of differences is what leads to the progression. And I think that’s what we have here, courtesy Stuart Hyatt’s always enthralling Field Works: one side hot with sun and sustain and a gently fusion mysticism; the other demotic, plain, no less wondering.
“Come climb into Cedars, join the two worlds for yourself; the album is long on thought and also on beauty.” (You can read our full review, here.)
Now Stuart has decided to re-approach the poetic bliss from a different and entirely instrumental angle; he’s stripped away the vocal element of the album, taken those underlying instrumental works and given them room to breathe; but he hasn’t simply left the resulting pieces as is – he’s taken them apart and rebuilt the original contributions from a host of artists that includes names such as Marisa Anderson, Fadi Tabbal, Youmna Saba, Dena El Saffar, and Nathan Bowles, among a host of others; rebuilt them, one layer at a time.
Aiming to bring the listener even deeper into the verdancy he also brought in pianist Julien Marchal as a new instrumental contributor, and field recordings from deep in the Welsh countryside captured by Harrison Ridley to add a vivacious new bed; this time around rather than the poetry of the human, the poetry of the animal world. The 15 new tracks thus reconstructed from Cedars are named for a line apiece from a new poem, “Deciduous”, by Texas professor of creative writing Cecily Parks.
Stuart intends Maples, Ash, and Oaks: Cedars Instrumentals as a soundtrack for a long walk in the woods; you can hear a first taster of this remaking below in “We Listen To Maples, Ash, Oaks”, in which the birdsong of the Welsh hills chimes and meshes with piano and the sun-bliss of slide guitar flowing. It has a gorgeous, heartfelt stillness that invites you further in. Push the branches and the underbrush aside; be here.
Field Works’ Maples, Ash, And Oaks: Cedars Instrumentals will be released by Temporary Residence digitally, on CD and on mother of pearl with green undertone vinyl on August 27th; this beautiful record is available to pre-order right now at Bandcamp and direct from the label.