It’s over a century on from WWI but this unequivocally important period in world history still plays a huge part in today’s art. So much so, rock band Field Music, released a 19 song album exploring the aftereffects of WWI. The album is considered to be the band’s first true concept album.
Making a New World was originally developed to be part of a performance project commissioned by the Imperial War Museum. The project was to create a commemorative sound and light show based upon imagery from 1919 publications about munitions, by the United States Department of War. The band’s brothers, Peter and David Brewis, had conducted research into stories, events and technological developments that had occurred during and after WWI and felt inspired and almost compelled to turn this project into a full concept album.
Making a New World opens with two short instrumentals, ‘Sound Ranging’ and ‘Silence’, both of which are intended to reflect the moment of ceasefire and set the tone for the rest of the albums post-war theme. The first full track on the album is ‘Coffee and Wine’, it follows the mindset of a disturbed soldier returning home -to a land much changed by the war. Despite the lyrics describing a troubled war officer, the tempo is actually quite upbeat and rhythmic.
‘I Thought You Were Something Else’ is track number 5 on the album and is a rock/jazz interlude, one of the many short threads pulling together the seams of the album. These interludes enable the album to be enjoyed in its entirety, a full 40 minutes of seamless music.
The album’s tracks have themes that attempt to pull together a vast array of subjects, some can argue only distantly related to post world war one life. ‘Only In a Man’s World’ sounds as though it could have come straight from Talking Heads ‘Speaking in Tongues’ album and explores how post-war advertising treats menstruation as something shameful. It’s an important issue to cover, however, can we really push it as a post-war problem, or is it part of the bigger issue of patriarchy?
‘A Change of Heir’ takes a look into how reconstructive skin graft surgery, pioneered back in WWI, has led to modern techniques used in today’s gender assignment surgeries. Again, a worthy topic but are we leaping from past to present before the albums even over?
Although Making a New World is well made and features over a dozen thought-provoking tracks, the overall consensus is that it doesn’t reflect the death, destruction, and sadness of post-WWI. It doesn’t really mirror the truth of post-world war life; children separated from parents, houses blown up in the blitz and young men returning from a war where youth and laughter have been buried deep in the muddy trenches in Flanders Fields. All in all, it’s a great art project but the issues and themes covered can sometimes feel a bit disjointed and crammed into one concept.