I was fairly sure that I would like this album before I’d even heard a second of it. Fieldhead’s damaged drones can be (and frequently are) compared with the likes of Grouper, Odd Nosdam, Boards of Canada, and William Basinski; and Fieldhead’s Paul Elam has ties with fellow Leeds residents Hood (possibly the most underrated band in the history of all things, by the way), sharing that band’s fascination with creating soundscapes that reflect the English countryside at its most autumnal and wintry. Having listened to 'A Correction', I can confirm that my early anticipation was not unfounded. In its thirty minutes, the album consists of 8 tracks of hazy, deteriorated ambience (with an additional 18-second introductory vignette) that brilliantly pay tribute to the work of Fieldhead’s aforementioned influences and contemporaries, while still remaining highly distinctive and original.
Probably the most noticeable element that makes 'A Correction' stand out from the work of other purveyors of rustic, broken electronica is the presence of violin on a number of tracks, courtesy of The Boats’ Elaine Reynolds. Reynolds’ violin playing is used to great effect on tracks like ‘812 Keefer’ and ‘Fram’, as its organic acoustic warmth perfectly juxtaposes the cold electronic harshness of scratchy, lower-than-lo-fi drones and glitchy clicks and cuts. Similarly worthy of note is Elam’s grasp of the importance of silence and of the absence of sound, which is demonstrated on highly dynamic tracks like ‘Neon, Ugly’ and ‘Northern Canada’.
It’s commendable just how many ideas and sounds are explored by Fieldhead over the course of such a relatively short album: ‘Neon, Ugly’, for example, adds elements of ambient dub (akin to the early work of Pan.American and Loscil) to the mix; and ‘Harris’ is almost Burial-esque in how, through its use of rhythm and bass, it recontextualises tropes commonly associated with dance music to create something reminiscent of a more melancholic and otherworldly version of it.
If I had to mention any problem with 'A Correction', it would relate to the length of the tracks: with the exception of the title track, every track on the album is less than four minutes in length. Now, this can be a good thing, as it limits the risk of tracks outstaying their welcome (as is always a possibility on an album as minimalist and understated as this one) but, despite that, I frequently found myself wishing that ideas had been explored more extensively – especially when a number of the tracks end disappointingly abruptly. Despite that, 'A Correction' is another great release from Fieldhead, which – like his previous releases (2009’s They Shook Hands for Hours and the 2010 EP Riser)– proves that he more than deserves to be regarded alongside the likes of Grouper and Boards of Canada as an important artist in the field of rustic, pastoral ambient / electronic music.
Posted: Fri 31 August 2012