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Listen: These New Puritans – Fragment Two

08 May 2013, 11:50 | Written by Sam Briggs

These New Puritans are back with the first taster proper of their new album. The proviso? “A bit different”.

After the utterly abrupt left turn into dark experimentation with second album Hidden, we’d probably settle for nothing less. Simulating the sound of human skulls being cracked by smashing cream cracker lined melons with hammers? Check. Full choirs of children? Check. Cover of a poem written by Victorian author Richard Garnett and set to music by Elgar? Double check. The result was a wonderfully uncomfortable evocation of the stark netherzone between man and machine, where a 13 piece orchestra battle to assert their organic warmth in their relentlessly cold surrounding.

Perhaps the mastermind behind the myth has mellowed. In the first press release for the album, Jack Barnett refers to liking the sense of being “surrounded by people playing instruments. You can hear someone move or breathe before they begin playing”. He goes on to talk about the “gap between me and the music” shrinking to nothing on this release.

It shows. Whilst little has changed in terms of the totalising aesthetic, and its controlled cohesiveness (the final incarnation of ‘Fragment Two’ contains reportedly the 76th drum take), this first take from the upcoming Field of Reeds oozes textured beauty, rather than a rabid doom drive. It’s still dark, but its melodies feel richer, as if they occupy every shade of grey, rather than a depthless black. Via a pealing trumpet, and the textured horn outro of last week’s trailer, this meaty fragment thrills within its subtle limits, rather than exploding out of its hiding place. The measured magnificence of this sliver, however, more than justifies the hype surrounding its body. Engulf yourself below. And for those who were worried they’d settled down into too comfy an armchair, do not fear: they spent a whole day smashing glass to achieve the desired sound for one album track.

Field of Reeds was put together in London, Berlin, and the West Country, and features new addition to the line-up, Elisa Rodrigues. It comes with a deluxe vinyl alternative, and the cover is below. The album is due to be released on 10 June on Infectious Music.

The album tracklist for Field of Reeds is:

1. This Guy’s In Love With You
2. Fragment Two
3. The Light In Your Name
4. V (Island Song)
5. Spiral
6. Organ Eternal
7. Nothing Else
8. Dream
9. Field of Reeds

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