These New Puritans pushed the boundaries of their music with one of the most unexpected and singular releases of 2013, ‘Field of Reeds’. Melding classical and experimental compositions, ‘Field of Reeds’ was a bold and ambitious accomplishment amongst a derivative musical landscape. ‘Expanded (Live at the Barbican)’ is an opportunity to hear one of the most unique albums of recent times live. Also featured are reworked songs both old and new, all played with the impressive inclusion of the Heritage Orchestra and Synergy Vocals.
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When I reviewed These New Puritans groundbreaking album ‘Field of Reeds’ a year or so back I had a feeling I had not gone far enough in my praise. My hunch was proved correct as over the following months, the album seemed to get better and better, revealing more and more layers to their complex, classically-influenced sound. To drone on for a moment about my own experiences, it once perfectly soundtracked a drive I did up out on the moors above Bradford towards Haworth, one of those marvellous moments in life when music and scenery seem to become as one.
Rare too that I can play an entire album without skipping a track or getting bored. Rightly, it deserves to be placed alongside ‘Laughing Stock’ and ‘Hex’ as one of the great sprawling post-rock (in the true sense of the phrase) albums of recent memory. This, then, is an excellent recording of the bands performance at the Barbican in London and, until the applause kicks in, I was pretty sure I was playing the album. To replicate a complex album like this so perfectly takes some doing. ‘The Light in Your Name’ is simply magnificent as is the unsurpassable ‘Island Song’. I’m curious about what happens when they run out of ‘Field Of Reeds’ songs and the result is that they play earlier stuff which are simply not in the ballpark. I’m aware that many enjoy their earlier work but on the evidence of the non ‘Field of Reeds’ tracks I’m going to stick to my ascertation that the band isn’t particularly worth bothering with beforehand.
I may be missing out but these ‘Field of Reeds’ songs shine like diamonds during this lengthy performance, one that also begs the question, how would someone like me hold my bladder in for the entirety? Best listen to it at home with the lights off and a toilet in near proximity.
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- Expanded (Live At The Barbican) by These New Puritans
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