The Week That Was is the first solo project from Field Music co-founder Peter Brewis. He has released one album - the self-titled 2008 debut - under the moniker. For those that don't know, Sunderland-based Field Music released two full albums, the eponymous 2005 debut and 2007's Tones of Town, both of which became one of many peoples' albums of the year. Perhaps willfully to some, Field Music, on the cusp of breaking through, decided, "to get off the band treadmill" concerned that being in a band in the traditional sense was restricting their creative output.
For those that don't know, Sunderland-based Field Music released two full albums, the eponymous 2005 debut and 2007's Tones of Town, both of which became one of many peoples' albums of the year. Perhaps willfully to some, Field Music, on the cusp of breaking through, decided, "to get off the band treadmill" concerned that being in a band in the traditional sense was restricting their creative output. The first fruits of this artistic freedom was David Brewis' much lauded School of Language album Sea From Shore in Feb 08..the second is The Week That Was, Peter's first solo foray.
The Week That Was, written and recorded in late 2007 at Field Music's 8 Studio in Sunderland, emerged from an imagined crime thriller dreamt up by Peter and inspired by Paul Auster's labyrinthine storytelling. Peter started writing the songs as if they were moments, instances of perspectives within this story. The story was left to fall away, leaving a puzzle of musical snapshots. The songs are the evidence in this particular mystery and the victims, perpetrators and onlookers raise questions with concerns familiar to us all. How do we deal with the fragments of information we receive through the television, radio, the internet? How do we balance the distrust we feel for mass media with our dependence on it? How does this relationship influence our hopes and actions in our real lives? And finally, what would happen if we decided not to deal with it anymore and switched off the information flow by throwing away our TVs, radios and newspapers? The anger, confusion and sorrow details the week of Peter's own enforced switch off. This may be about as conceptual as Peter will ever get.
Musically the record is an expansive tribute, paying direct (and indirect) homage to the wildly ambitious Linn Drum and Fairlight experiments of Kate Bush, Peter Gabriel and Tin Drum-era Japan. This fused with the typically detailed arrangements and sense of drama makes The Week That Was a brain-shattering, 32 minute epic, straying further outside the conventions of most indie-guitar music.
The Week That Was has a cinematic quality not immediately obvious in Field Music's previous recordings. Yesterday's Paper wouldn't seem out of place as an alternative soundtrack to the bureaucratic nightmares of Terry Gilliam's Brazil, though with the surreal melodrama replaced by an uncomfortable realism. True to it's title, Scratch The Surface sounds like an inescapable, nagging, psychological itch - discomfort dragged into the realms of psychodrama. The Airport Line conjures the optimism of a train journey between Newcastle airport to Sunderland. The Good Life seems to question the rose tinted monocle of the TV eye. More evocative still are the cycles of melancholy running though It's All Gone Quiet and Come Home, both eulogies to love, loneliness and dependence.
The record features contributions from Peter's Field Music colleagues, Andrew Moore and David Brewis, along with Pete Gofton on vibraphone, singing by Jennie Redmond, John Beattie on cornet and Laura Cullen on flute, as well as percussive and vocal duties from This Ain't Vegas' Jordan Hill and Richard Amundsen. The strings were played by Emma Fisk and Peter Richardson (veterans of previous Field Music albums) and Pauline Brandon. The success of the album, however, pivots around Peter's deftness and ingenuity as producer, engineer, writer, instrumentalist and singer - it's hard to think of even a handful of artists who would attempt to harness such a sprawl of ideas, let alone who could pull off such a project so astutely.