William Fowler Collins – Field Music

William Fowler Collins invites you into his Field Music (SIGE, October 19), a dark and minimal dream sequence from New Mexico, where slow, mystical drones are embedded into the fabric of rhythmic diversity, pulled together by dark, mysterious intentions.

Inseparable from the album is the history of the atomic bomb, as evidenced from the photograph on the cover, which shows the ranch where the first nuclear weapon was assembled. Field Music relates to the patter of the military drum corps, an incessant battle cry of a tribe in motion, and a sound which hovers over a rainy and sustained drone that blends into the polyrhythms of Voodoo ritual.

Collins notes that the titular field can also be defined as the fabric of time and space. A contradiction runs through the sound, as although the music is minimal, the space the drone creates is epic and desert-like, mirroring the geography of New Mexico; a sound which is both restrictive and largely concealed, but wide enough to dilate the pupils.

Convulsing with regular upheavals, the rhythms become a slowly developing form of hypnotism. Field Music pulls you in with its unstoppable gravity. Once inside, it’s impossible to get out, to remove oneself, like prey caught up in a spider’s silver web. Looping out of the machine, these sustained drones quiver in their subtle oscillations and their repetitive regurgitations. Pushing itself outwards, the drone continues to loop on with a steely stare, an unforgiving glare of a cruel deity. The title track’s rhythms have an urgency to them, but the steady pulses of ‘Contact Is A Mother’ slow things down, revolving, whirring, like the blades of a military chopper seconds away from its doom.

Rhythm is primal, inbuilt, prehistoric. Its connection to the body is as deep and as essential as its relationship with the internal organs; its raw, carnivorous energy is released in the form of dance or uncontrolled physical movement, which is a response to its possession, and the only appropriate one to an invading presence.

The regular strobes are felt more than heard, and that’s especially true of ‘How Horrible It Would Be’, where the drone lurks in a dark and deep tunnel, using the lower bass frequencies as a lair. The rhythm churns in the distance, but it feels so alive, reeking of ancient history and the ever-shifting revolutions of the present. ‘They Wept Together’ has more of a 4/4 pattern, but even this is dissected by a quicker rhythm that nestles deep within the track, rhythm inside rhythm inside rhythm inside rhythm; a musical house of leaves.


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