[sic] Magazine

David Fielding – Northern Star

Northern Star is the first solo album from The Chameleons founding guitarist, David Fielding. This eclectic, instrumental collection finally gets a release after gestating for the better part of two decades. Throughout that incubation time, Fielding has remained active both as musician and producer. His dreamy guitarwork illuminated the 2019 Black Swan Lane album, Vita Eterna. So much so that Jack Sobel invited him back to work on its follow up. However Covid travel restrictions thwarted those plans. Prior to that David (Dave to his friends and fans) played a huge role in Red-Sided Garter Snakes, itself an ensemble project of renown within Manchester music circles. Dave acted as right hand man to (the much missed) John Lever whilst contributing to the Endless Sea album. Now, at last, the ‘sensitive soul’ of The Chameleons takes centre stage himself.

If you’re a Chameleons fan I’m probably preaching to the converted. You’ll own Vita Eterna, Endless Sea and you’ll certainly pick up this glistening record. However, just because it is David Fielding solo don’t assume this is some kind of Robin Guthrie-esque collection of tonal guitar variations. Dave casts a far wider net and a worldlier one at that. Trademark Fielding guitar playing can be found of course and when you hear it you will be reminded of The Reegs and The Chameleons. Certain compositions feel like companion pieces to Chameleons tracks such as ‘I’ll Remember’. Yet there’s a far broader palette on display here. Dave’s love of Eastern mysticism is often to the fore either using hypnotic beats, dreamy keys or drone. For example the albums title track evokes Dead Can Dance with pitter-patter dulcimer and digeridoo. It’s just one of many spacey pieces that comprise the beginning third of the album. The middle section pays touching tribute to some lost friends and the album ends with pulsing, trance-inducing beats.

To say Northern Star is ‘good’ is akin to proclaiming that water is wet. It’s a David Fielding album. What else could we expect? It’s wonderful. There’s a track here called ‘Love, Knowingness and Bliss’. Fielding could have called the album that, because that’s the vibe I’m getting throughout. However I want to give some context here. In a recent interview (linked) Dave cited comeback album Why Call It Anything as his favourite Chameleons record. I find this telling. Most fans would opt for one of the bands fabled first three albums. Those flawless post-punk anthems still get trotted out to this day in live settings. Why Call It Anything was different though. Ambitious, mature and with copious leanings to Prog Rock, Why Call It Anything gave validation to the bands comeback circa 2000 -2001. New material oxygenated the blood of The Chameleons, version 2.0. At least until their second, terminal split a few years later. It meant The Chameleons were a living and breathing outfit. They really were back rather than just paying tribute to their old classics. Northern Star is similar in this regard. Not for Dave the preoccupation with his old bands legendary history. Fielding won’t participate to the nostalgia trip. Now we can see why. The man is clearly looking forwards rather than wistfully back to the past. As such Northern Star is vibrant, fresh and unique. Moreover it is really quite lovely.

Congratulations Mr Fielding – occasionally David but unmistakably Dave here on Northern Star. That’s what he is in fact, a northern star.

More ‘occasions’ please.

Northern Star is available now via the Blue Apple Music link below.

Blue Apple Music

Buy the album.

Interview, Dave Fielding

Endless Sea

Vita Eterna