[sic] Magazine

These New Puritans – Field Of Reeds

Writing about These New Puritans ‘ new album Field Of Reeds feels somewhat redundant – as if it’s beyond a music review. Trying to convey what it is about this record that is so utterly transporting means going beyond references to their previous albums; beyond the stories of recording a magnetic resonator piano, a hawk and breaking glass; beyond comparisons to music made by other artists. Field Of Reeds succeeds because this music, as challenging as it can be, feels natural. It takes a perfectionist like Jack Barnett at the helm to create something that sounds effortless, like water, like breathing, like feeling. Elusive yet anything but impenetrable, this album must be experienced on its own terms in order to appreciate its breathtaking beauty.

Try putting it on in the background and you’ll soon find it irritating. Despite its atmospheric qualities, there’s something insistent about these compositions. They don’t demand your attention, but rather insinuate themselves into your consciousness. String and horn arrangements form the basis of the majority of these songs, but rather than being built around repeated melodic motifs, they’re structured around phrases, around fragments. Initially it doesn’t seem to cohere, but it’s this tendency towards abstraction that sustains fascination. There’s just enough structure to cling to: the piano ostinato in ‘Fragment Two’; the metronomic drum pattern in ‘V (Island Song)’; the synth arpeggios in ‘Eternal Organ’. For the most part, though, it’s a question of switching off the part of your brain that seeks pop-song payoffs and going with the heavenly flow.

There are two key lines in the stunning ‘Nothing Else’: “Just for a minute, nonsense and meaning swap places”; “Just for a minute, real life and dreaming swap places” . Therein lies Field Of Reeds ‘ magic – embracing a dream-like state is the only way to appreciate this album’s meaning. It’s not something to be understood, but rather something to be experienced. And it’s truly like nothing else.