Film School - Field LP (Forest Green)
2235 Fern Street
2235 Fern Street
San Diego CA 92104
In Rumi's poem A Great Wagon he writes of a place of total acceptance. "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I'll meet you there," It is a boundless, liminal space where we can release the judgments we make and carry of ourselves, and the comparisons to others. When we think of this field, there is a sense of tranquility that only comes when we are undisturbed by the shadow self and see existence as neither bright nor dim, white nor black. But as lead singer Greg Bertens explains, arriving there is a whole different story. "This is a poem I've returned to over the years, and I love the idea of this place, but getting there is life's journey." Bertens adds "I think the longing for and elusiveness of this field is a recurring theme in our music." Field is enveloped by themes of regret, disconnection and frustration but with the space to understand that these feelings are a natural part of the struggle between reconciling the inner and outer self.
The Los Angeles/San Francisco-based group have been indie shoegaze stalwarts since their formation in 2001. After two decades and a handful of line-up changes, their extensive discography presents a dynamically textural, lush psychedelic rock that has featured guest appearances by members of Pavement, My Bloody Valentine, and Snow Patrol, among others. 2021's LP We Weren't Here was hailed for it's dense instrumental blanket, where unrelenting hi-hats and heavy kicks exist alongside dreamy drone guitar. This propulsive nature permeates Field, as members Bertens, Noël Brydebell (vocals), Nyles Lannon (guitar), Jason Ruck (synths), Justin LaBo (bass), and Adam Wade (drums) produce a kaleidoscopic sonic landscape. Patient, sprawling instrumentation builds a foundation in which Bertens' themes of endurance, perseverance and clarity can bloom with a considered poise. As a lyricist who writes in response to the instrumental arrangements, rather than a focus on a specific theme or person, Field is a testament to Film School's ability to create in the moment, and to showcase the magic that stems from when we are truly present. Album opener "Tape Rewind" is a swirling rush of color, as sustained guitars, darkened bass lines and urgent, percussive swells dance alongside each other. "This is the newest of all the songs on the record and feels like a new level of heaviness for the band," Bertens explains, noting that it's lyrical context of struggling to move past trauma adds to it's cathartic essence. Field is bookended by heavier themes, with closer "All I'll Ever Be" taking on the perspective of those we hurt when we embrace our own toxic behaviors. Originally written to be a simple acoustic guitar and vocals song soon turned into an ethereal, effects-laden composition, with Noël's hazy lead vocals ushering in a new-found acceptance. "It's all I want / To be released / And all I can be," she laments, cementing Field's message of accepting ourselves in whatever form we find ourselves in. "Defending Ruins" is a murky relentless underworld, inspired by the freewheeling tones of Texas-based band Holy Wave. "Defending the ruins, defending remains," Bertens spits, among a richly-layered outro. "Don't You Ever" confirms Film School's ability to merge both delicate and growling instrumentation throughout the album, with the song's softly spoken section hovering above sparkling guitar. "Is This A Hotel" bends towards the electronic aspects of the band, with wailing synths accompanying a story of bitter desire. With over two decades in the industry, Field cements Film School as a distinct, dominant force in the shoegaze scene. Soaked in an emotionally open, imaginative atmosphere, the album is both singular and expansive, and leaves the door open for a constantly evolving interpretation. Film School have never confined themselves to the rigidity of specifics, and it's on Field that they urge us to look beyond the binary of certainty, and to take a second look.