Chris Field's, Sub-Conscious, A Review by Matthew Warnock
Having an extensive and impressive resume of works in the film industry, most notably for his work with the Lord of the Rings and Twilight franchises, composer Chris Field recently stepped out on his own with the release of his debut album Sub-Conscious. The album, which is orchestrated music mixed with rock and pop elements, features threads of cinematic quality running through it, but stands out on its own in regards to its artistic output. Drawing upon his film music background, including an expertise in writing for strings and developing a melody, Field’s first release is a triumph for the successful composer, leaving the listener with the hope that Field will explore this side of his musical output further as he moves forward with his career.
With such a strong background in the film music industry, it is inevitable that elements of that world will cross over into Field’s first record. Pieces such as “Five,” which features a 5/4 time signature and ostinato piano pattern, are an example of Field adding some cinematic flare to his writing. The orchestration is well-written and highly effective from an emotional standpoint, with the soaring strings, distorted guitar work and piano all working together to create an atmosphere that goes beyond a simple melodic and harmonic statement. This is where film music is so successful, in using melodies, timbres and instrumental combination to evoke a strong response from the listener, without bringing lyrics into the equation. On this, and many other, tracks on the record, Field uses his experiences as a film composer to reach out and make a strong connection with the listener, allowing them to be a part of these tracks as he leads them down a fun and enjoyable musical pathway.
On other tracks, Field brings more of a House-Dance influences into his writing, such as the groove and instrumentation on “D & A.” Here, we find the composer using strings as part of the arrangement, but the electronic beats and Fender Rhodes piano work create more of a danceable mood with the track than some of the other works on the album. By mixing things up, bringing in different influences and using interesting instrument combination, Fields is not only following his creative instincts, but is providing a diverse listening experience that prevents the album from becoming predictable or monotonous. Instead, tracks such as this showcase a different side of Field’s artistry, and give the listener a varied experience at the same time, two items that go a long way to the overall success of the album.
One of the most interesting tracks on the record is Field’s interpretation of “Ave Maria.” Here, he introduces vocal choir alongside percussion, electronic keyboard and a groovin’ drum beat to bring a fresh take to this classic work. Though some modern interpretations of pieces such as this can sound kitsch or campy, Field does a great job of blending tradition with innovation as he brings a fresh and exciting treatment to a much-loved classic. Even those listeners that are unfamiliar with the piece’s origins can enjoy the work as much a seasoned classical fans. By working in familiar territory to his album, Field is not only showcasing his compositional abilities but his talents as an arranger and interpreter of classic works at the same time, something that listeners of all backgrounds and tastes can enjoy.
Overall, Sub-Conscious is an enjoyable album featuring a mix of modern and traditional timbres, beats and influences. By allowing each of his various influences to come to the forefront, Field creates a fun and exciting musical journey.
Reviewed by Matthew Warnock; Rating: 5 Stars (out of 5)