words by jo higgs
photography by catalina kulczar
The music of Field Guides fully embraces the importance of nature, not only in the effortless flow of one song blossoming seamlessly into the next but also in the field recordings of crickets and birds, the wind whispering in the trees, serene layers lying under the instruments, birthing a pastoral quality.
Following suitably onwards from the band’s first full-length project (Boo, Forever) This Is Just A Place allows Kupstas’s lyrics to venture further into retrospection. The first track ‘Art of Fiction No. 83’ opens with the line “Were we put off by what we saw?” delicately sung over ethereal slide-guitar and soothing organ before a brief but powerful burst of distortion. Dynamics and moods rise and fall like waves, glistening as the album progresses, intertwining melodies carefully wrapping loops around each other, mutually teasing companionship.
In many of the cuts, a layering of guitars procures a rich tapesterial texture while the drums beat like human hearts. However, on ‘Lucky Star in the A.M.’ it is the electronically programmed drums that crack crisply beneath the fuller-bodied acoustic ones as bottle-neck slide guitar swirls and soars above, below and in the midst of it all. In ‘Year of the Horseshoe’, the natural world once again takes hold as structured vocal melodies fall away into obscurity, giving the reigns to a gaggle of horns fluttering free-form into fade.
The album reaches an emotional climax in the twilight of the final song ‘Guessing At Animals’. A female voice directly addresses Kupstas in irresistibly sweet tune: “Hey Benny boy, are you ready?”, to which he tentatively calls back “I’m not sure. Not just yet. Can this go on a little more?”. This hesitation and indecision seems to be a manifestation of the need for organic, unaffected growth in the album: anything outwith the natural pacing and progression of This Is Just A Place would be a betrayal of the ideals it holds.
The album is released this coming Friday, but we’re very pleased to exclusively stream the whole set for your here today. This review is also published in Issue Four of our new physical publication, A Music Journal, which you can order worldwide right here.
Pre-order This Is Just A Place here