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Posted on July 22nd, 2015 (10:00 am) by Justin Goodman

Among film score composers there are two types. Those who are hired during the film process (John Williams or the Scottish Indie musician King Creosote) in order to help craft, from the raw material, a finished product, and those who use the final product to create a score free of living directors (Richard Einhorn, who composed the 1994 Voices of Light for the 1928 film The Passion of Joan of Arc). Because the former tend to write around the film, they often have staying power beyond the film. That’s unfortunately not the case sometimes for the latter, as Field Music’s newest album reveals. Not only is it constrained to the timeframe of Drifters, the 1929 documentary which it’s written for, but Music for Drifters can’t be removed from the film’s background without losing all its value.

And this is the biggest flaw. It can’t be sold separated from the source material. A majority of the tracks are under a minute, which is jarring despite the fluidity of the track changes. Although vocal-less soundtracks aren’t uncommon – as with the duo's likely influence Phillip Glass, minimalist composer-cum-film scorer – their winch approach is too caught up in the motion of the film, never finding itself cleverly drifting as they do in previous albums. When each track is named after a title card (“The Log Line Tells The Miles”) or a literal description of the scene (“Night Time”), their differences ironically become less existent than if they had more specific and unique names.

To be fair, we tried lining up the film with the score. We had little success. When we did though, it was hard to say it strengthened the movie in a discernible way. If anything, it felt poorly conceived. The digital plinks atop each scene like a loose-fitted hat, not experimental enough to be meaningful and not catching enough to be memorable. In base aesthetics they differ too greatly. Imagine Lord of the Rings with a Wes Anderson soundtrack. Only, that is funnier than this and changes the weight distribution of each scene. Field Music, in being most effective when trying to remold conceptions, loses its footing in a film like Drifters which attempts to mold them. Instead of them lifting the film into the 21st century, it drags Field Music into the 20th.

Who’s to blame for this? The most that can be said is that it was a misstep on all ends. It’s not tragically bad: Its existence doesn’t signal the end of the band’s legacy, or reveal some deep truth about the limits of the art of film music. It’s worse. It’s as forgettable as if it had not been made at all.

Track Listing:

  1. Introduction
  2. Village
  3. Engine
  4. Out of the Harbor
  5. Headland
  6. The Log-line Tells the Miles
  7. Casting Out Part 1
  8. While Down Below
  9. Casting Out Pts 2 and 3
  10. Night-time
  11. Destroyers of the Deep
  12. Dawn Breaks
  13. Wake Up
  14. Hauling
  15. The Storm Gathers
  16. Full Speed
  17. Batten Down
  18. The Ship Rides Through/Quayside Pt 1
  19. Quayside Pt 2
  20. Ends of the Earth
Field Music - Music For Drifters
Purchase at: Amazon | eMusic

Our Rating

42 / 100
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