Field Report – Porter Field

Field Report

In 2006 DeYarmond Edison released an album that was noteworthy only for the fact that there were no capital letters in any of their song titles. They soon split. Musical differences were cited. One of its members retreated to a remote cabin and returned with an album called For Emma, Forever Ago. It was a hit. Others formed a band called Megafaun and started to experiment with sounds. Recently, they have experimented rather less and have become much more pleasant to listen to. Now, the remaining member of DeYarmond Edison, Chris Porterfield, has re-emerged with a new album. It’s magnificent. The foundations of Field Report (geddit?) are straightforward enough – strummed guitars, piano, some synths, percussion, and vocals. But what defines the album is the immense sense of space in the songs. The opening track sets the scene, taking off slowly, swooping around, and landing softly. “This is the one”, Porterfield sings, “in which I miraculously pulled out, Of a free-fall dive over Fergus Falls, Minnesota”. The whole album is full of long, languorous vowels. “You and me were not built to be”, he sings on ‘Evergreen’, with the last syllable extending to over 10 glorious seconds. There are plenty of stories, but they’re always told unhurriedly. ‘Chico The American’ is a tale of hard drink being taken, but it’s no quick visit to the bar. It’s a month-long, gin-soaked bender. On albums like this, there’s always a thin line between space and just plain slow. On some of their recent live sessions, Field Report have passed that line, stretching some of the songs so thin that they break. Here, they hold together perfectly. It’s invidious to compare Field Report with Bon Iver. Justin Vernon’s first album was unique. He sounded so different. Porterfield and Field Report are not unique. They sound much more conventional. But what they have created in this space is quite beautiful, and in the long run that’s what matters.

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