"Sub-Conscious", the new album from Chris Field, is a surprisingly unique offering from an artist who is new to my ears. I'm not sure where to begin. How do you explain beautiful complexity? How can you put into words a musical style that you have never heard before? I will start by saying that Sub-Conscious is a powerful and haunting collection of eight stellar tracks, all of which flow together seamlessly and leave the listener moved.
Sub-Conscious is a great example of the kind of music you have heard from X-Ray Dog, Immediate Music, and ES Posthumus. On a first listen, it is obvious that Field's sound is beautiful and catchy. But the more you listen to it, the more you begin to understand the subtleties of his orchestral arrangements, and the intricacies of the string and vocal melodies, and the odd time signatures which define Field's style.
You've heard Chris Field's music in the trailers for dozens of first rate Hollywood productions, from Steven Spielberg's War of the Worlds to Gore Verbinski's Pirates of the Caribbean. One of Field's most popular works is "Gothic Power" which has been featured extensively to advertise The Lord of the Rings trilogy. Field is one of the most experienced and well known movie trailer composers today.
Chris Field's talent for symphonic orchestration has made him one of today's forerunners in cinematic, new age, and world music. Sub-Conscious hypnotically undulates on the borders of many different film styles. Many of the tracks are poignant pieces which seduce the listener. Although the songs on Sub-Conscious could be used in a film, their construction is intentionally build to satisfy an album format. And that is why it succeeds.
Christopher Field is a master at understanding musical intangibles. He understands that music is as much about emotional catalysts as it is about theory. Listening to Sub-Conscious, it is obvious that he knows which keys, melodies, arrangements, and voicing pull the listener in a certain emotional direction.
On a first listen, you are mostly surprised by the individuality of Field's music. The first track, "Floating", begins with a lush layer of strings, and then introduces one of the main themes of Chris Field music: the relationship between string ensemble and grand piano. Field's introduction of drums to complement the strings and piano is a surprising and innovative move.
"Ave Maria", the second track, is one of the signature pieces on Sub-Conscious. Alternating between minor and major tonalities, "Ave Maria" has elaborate arrangement and powerful vocal melodies. Such vibrant melodic construction is what Field is known for -- whether it is composing and arranging hit music for movie trailers -- or in the production of a solo album.
The sense of the mysterious continues through "Five", with its odd time signature, and "Days", a cinematically constructed piece that combines electric guitars with B3 organ and string sounds. The album takes a turn for the electronic with "D&A", a powerful tune that is driven by an infectious UK-Garage/ drum & bass beat, and a seductive Wurlitzer organ.
Never one to bring the listener to complacency, Field again surprises the listener with the simply astounding "Blue". Coming in at 14 minutes and passing through several interludes, this epic track pays homage to George Gershwin with its use of symphonic blues. Beautiful and lingering, Blue is nothing short of perfection.
Rounding out the album is "Mother", another signature track, and the ethereal title track, "Sub-Conscious". Chris Field's music is for people to whom music is a transitory device to reach another level of consciousness, and the title track is a perfect example of this approach. Sub-Conscious, a collection of soothing and magnetic sounds, brings the listener down in a kind of denouement. It is a great way to round out the ear.
Although this album has a great background vibe, I believe that to truly experience the power and complexity of Chris Field's music, the best thing is to put yourself in a safe and quiet place, turn off all cell phones, get comfortable, and focus on the music. I found myself enjoying it immensely. I look forward to more music from Chris Field in the future. It is truly Music in the Twenty-First Century. --Tom Wynn
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2. Ave Maria