Gig review: Field Music: Drifters, Glasgow

David and Peter Brewis of Field Music. Picture: Johnston Press
David and Peter Brewis of Field Music. Picture: Johnston Press
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YOU wait all your life for maritime film footage to be soundtracked by an atmospheric indie band and suddenly they’re all at it.

Field Music: Drifters

Glasgow Film Theatre

Rating: ****

Following The Unthanks’ Songs from the Shipyards project and British Sea Power’s score for Penny Woolcock’s From the Sea to the Land Beyond, the next up to the plate are Sunderland’s Field Music, helmed by David and Peter Brewis, with their musical response to John Grierson’s Drifters, an immersive silent documentary from 1929 which tracks North Sea herring boats from sea to harbour.

Grierson’s Granton Trawler was screened first as the B-feature, with its original soundtrack reconstructing the sounds of fishermen at work, before the Brewis brothers and band supplied a contrasting but complementary score of plangent guitar, electro jazz keyboards and a slow martial beat to match the hypnotic footage of bobbing buoys and silvery shoals caught in the nets. As the water heaved and the fishermen’s labours intensified on screen, so their proggy post-rock soundtrack swelled to fit the occasion.

The influence of the likes of King Crimson and Todd Rundgren could also be discerned in the mini-set of their own songs which followed. The Brewises are lovers of classic pop melody and purveyors of idiosyncratic fraternal harmonies which they skew with unexpected shifts in tempo and direction and what they noted as “ambiguous endings”. Keyboard player Andrew Moore also aired one of his songs, a twist on the 70s piano troubadour tradition which was cut from similar cleverly stylised cloth.