TRACK: Field Works – ‘Ḥalaqah ’Azaliyyah’: a beyond-pretty exploration of Americana and Arabic poetry



FIELD WORKS is 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.

It’s all helmed by Indianapolis producer Stuart Hyatt, who began the series – the forthcoming album is the ninth instalment – in 2018, releasing Pogue’s Run digitally on Temporary Residence, and calling on the services of Kranky’s Benoit Pioulard, Eluvium and William Tyler to flesh out his vision.

Since then there’s been digital explorations such as The National Road, featuring both Lali Puna and Nick Zammuto, formerly of The Books; Katryn Aurelia Smith, Gazelle Twin and Pantha Du Prince came aboard for no.7, Initial Sounds; last year’s Ultrasonic graduated up to physical formatting, and is based for a sound source around the ultrasonic echolocations of the Indiana bat, modulated for human audibility and then fashioned into music by Mary Lattimore, Kelly Moran, Taylor Deupree, Sarah Davachi; others. It’s quite the thing then; quite the exploration for jaded ears.

The mysterious ninth album in the Field Works series, Cedars, will soon be upon us; it combines 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 and English poetry: a song cycle examining the planet’s ancient forests and our relationship to them.

Only a week or two ago we took a look at the debut single drop, “La’ali”; we noted how “blissful tones sing out beneath Arabic poetry, intoned by Youmna Saba; little string interjections and pedal steel add other colours to an already bright palette. Then Youmna lilts, sings out; it’s a very beautiful thing.”

The second single is with us now, “Ḥalaqah ’Azaliyyah” and that really brings out the beauty of the fusion concept being investigated; it’s so bright with pedal steel steel and ambience, a dawn rise of tremendous prettiness, the poem this time taking its place as a texture of the whole. It should be a fascinating album.

Field Works’ Cedars will be released by Temporary Residence digitally, on CD and on vinyl on March 5th; it’s available for pre-order over at Bandcamp and at the label now.

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