A mysterious 1001 nights of poetry set to a mysterious Arabian ambient soundtrack.
Field Works have been creating ambient music for many years. The group takes inspiration from various different worldly scenarios. Their 2020 album ‘Ultrasonic’ was about Bats for example. ‘Cedars’ is about a merger of cultures. On one hand we have Americana – lap guitars and country tales. On the other we have Arabic poetry and Middle Eastern instrumentation. Joined together in a distinctive A/B side format – this ambient poetry corner is a fascinating album.
Side A contains eight tracks of Arabian poems narrated by Youmna Saba. She brings a mysterious and calm serenity with her voice as she glides over Oud, lap guitars, hurdy-gurdy and cosmic synths. Different tracks have distinct feelings. ‘Badron wa Qina” feels epic and cavernous in its echoes and drones. ‘La’ali’ meanwhile sounds like a divine intervention. At all times, the music is hypnotising, as if we are being led down a curious garden path of tales.
Side B switches the instrumentation to a more Americana guitar focused approach. These tracks are English poems narrated by H.C. McEntire. Interestingly, these tracks are largely fluffier and less intense than the Arabic led ones. This is in part due to the instrumentation used. Bouncy layered guitars and cloudy synth drones flutter around delicately but bountifully. It is in rare moments such as the instrumental ‘In the floodplain’ where this selection feels introspective with its dulcimers and waning guitars.
Regardless of which side you may be instantly drawn to, both sides are equally captivating. Field Works understand that ambient inspired music can be constantly evolving and changing. A drone doesn’t have to be a singular note for eternity – it can shapeshift and flutter. Field Works also understands that ambient can be truly melodic too. Both sides offer this in different ways. Youmna is far more evocative in her narration than H.C. is, who comes from the school of restrained delivery that Western poets often use. The Arabian influences create a rolling shimmer of melodies on side A whereas the guitar is used more rhythmically on side B. Both are great though.
I’m not usually someone that enjoys spoken word music. I can count the amount of spoken word releases I own on one hand. Field Works ha put forward the best use of poetry in music I’ve heard for many years. ‘Cedars’ works on so many levels but it is also just great music. Enjoy the journey.
Recommended track: La’āli’
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