Peals

Walking Field

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A drastic departure from their former Baltimore indie rock/post-punk groups, for Peals' 2013 debut Walking Field, Future Islands' William Cashion and Double Dagger's Bruce Willen teamed up for a sweeping ambient sound collage project. Built on pastoral instrumentation, both members contribute a variety of sounds, manipulating guitar loops, keyboards, Fisher-Price xylophones, and field recordings into drone pieces. Textures play the main role in the opener "Floating Leaf," a piece that features some fingerpicking and atmospheric washes that never stray from a single unified key, and "Blue Elvis" is a simple guitar melody played over some found percussion tapped from a distant hallway. One of the terms for this project was that the music could be played in a quiet art space or museum installation, so the mood is consistently subdued and bittersweet, kept purposely to a minimal hush. Probably because neither of the artists concentrate on their usual instruments of choice, there is a childlike innocence that runs throughout the wash. For "Belle Air" one plays guitar through an echo pedal, while the other jangles wind chimes, shaking just until the bells start to overwhelm the mix and then stepping back to listen to the undertones. Other songs find the duo duetting on an instrument. For "Pendelles" they bow on cellos and they each play a clean electric guitar on "Tiptoes in the Parlor," which employs a melody that would sound suspiciously like Double Dagger, had it been played on bass. Ambient classics like Brian Eno's Music for Airports surely played an influence on the meditative pieces, especially in the sine wave organ ebb and flow of "Believer," and like classic analog ambient albums, Peals' organic instrumentation creates a warm sense of depth that isn't typically found in modern electronic releases.

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