For this month’s ChicagoVerseUniteD cover story, every day in January will preview a different local artist’s plans for 2011. Today: The Field Auxiliary!
Experimental art-pop unit The Field Auxiliary last surfaced this past September with “Jon Three Sixteen / Sympathy for the Transmission Line Transformer,” a sprawling and celebratory warbly-voiced missive described on the act’s Bandcamp page as being “about the futility of preserving a message musically.” With such a heady description, it should come as no surprise that the band had plenty to say about new material in 2011, with the group’s Dan Smart informing CVU that The Field Auxiliary is “in the middle of an EP and an LP right now.”
“The EP should be done this spring, and it’s going to consist of one track from the forthcoming full-length, plus our current dual-single, plus two or three songs that we feel work better and sound stronger in the context of an EP than on a full-length,” the songwriter reveals. “The LP itself will probably be done this fall and will have the featured EP track on it, plus all new stuff.”
Working out of Smart’s coach house where the musician/producer is engineering and mixing new material, he theorizes that “the vibes of these records are more heavily predicated on our live-shows than our first record was. Instead of being these heavily layered studio products, these new songs have started with our live parts as the bulk of the sound, and then that live-band base is being augmented and studded with unique studio sounds as we go. We’re hoping that the end result is a nice mix that really echoes where we are as a live band, but also honors the idea of ‘recorded music’ as its own, separate blank canvas.”
“The EP is a little more eclectic than the LP,” Smart continues. “It has some of our most traditional-sounding pop songs on it, but it also has a few studio-specific experiments, a few good noisy moments, and ambient pieces on it; so it’s like a good shorthand for our range and our influences, all compressed down to five or six songs. The LP is looking more streamlined vibe-wise, but many of the songs are a lot longer and really stretch out and explore their own cathartic jamminess. Right now, it’s consisting of a batch of songs that follow certain lyrical themes and have a little more cohesion to the instrumentation. There’s some intensive grappling with ideas of control/lack of control and with the compulsion to name and organize things going on with the music and lyrical focus. A lot of the songs (on both records) sort of engage directly with the motivation for their own creation (which sounds weirder than it is). Influence-wise, I think we’re running a fun gamut here of pop, psych, space, grunge, noise, ambient…I’d tag Beatles, Pixies, Sonic Youth, Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, Harry Nilsson, Spacemen 3, Spiritualized, etc. in the list of people that are helping make this music happen.”
To experience the magic for yourself, catch The Field Auxiliary live on Friday, February 18th at Lincoln Hall, or check out ”Jon Three Sixteen / Sympathy for the Transmission Line Transformer” via the Bandcamp player below.