No, I don’t wholly get what that’s meant to be on the cover either – a headless, aluminium foil sheep? An arched human, breathing its last? – but the colours are entirely appropriate. Flies The Fields is an album of epic blackness, slivers of shimmering light puncturing the expanse of bleakness with only fleeting regularity. It’s the sound of unrelenting oppression, beating down the senses until they lie vanquished, flattened by a force previously unheard in the field of, ahem, post rock (it’s what we’ll run with here unless anyone offers substantial objections).
Members of Rachel’s and June Of 44 (Jeff Mueller, Jason Noble) have unwittingly crafted a record that almost renders their previous work irrelevant, such is its enormous initial impact upon the listener (I said almost). ‘Axons And Dendrites’ opens proceedings with a funeral-paced flourish, before ‘(Morays Or) Demon’ ups tempo and vocal agitation towards the point of intolerance. Reach for skip if you cherish your ears, but those with hardy hearing will reap rewards as the song splutters and sighs its way into the intoxicating tranquillity of ‘It’s Not Too Late’.
Repeated listens only add to that first impression: this is a record with legs, albeit ones with clawed feet and muscular thighs. It’s almost certain that the addition of Todd Cook, also performing as a member of Slint, has added an air of malevolence unrealised on Shipping News’ three albums before this. Buy Flies The Fields now and you’ll still be returning to its dark and mysterious sounds come wintertime, or whenever the English summer gives way to thundering storm and insufferable rain. Come that time, this will soundtrack one’s existence until the cloud breaks and fractured shards of sunlight stream across once shaded rooms again, burning demons back into their shadows.
Flies The Fields is a masterpiece of foreboding that’ll both fascinate and terrify in equal measure. Post-rock (well you pigeonhole this) has never sounded so fevered.
8Mike Diver's Score