Foreign Fields — Anywhere But Where I Am ::

Like many others Foreign Fields attached a fragile balloon to their debut and sent it aloft in hopes it caught an internet thermal column. Like thousands they’d recorded it themselves in their hometown, Wisconsin in this case, in an abandoned building, and they strung it with names intended to act as beacons: Bon Iver, Radiohead, Flying Lotus.

This album was simply put on Bandcamp for free. And it’s still up there, free. Like it has for so few others this tactic’s worked for Foreign Fields. The album gained traction with so many blogs and review sites that it was finally recommended to me by a friend who walks these paths with more dedication than myself.

I’ve never freely acquired an album so brilliant. Comparisons with Bon Iver’s first album, For Emma, Forever Ago, abound and aren’t misplaced. It has a sense of magnificent isolation. It’s sparse but a sense of melody pervades. Guitar, piano, harmonies, tones, synth and percussion all are threaded together with poetic simplicity.

And it’s assured. Over half the tracks are over five minutes, drifting their length out with engrossing patience. I was convinced it was unnecessary or self-serving but listening to the album again for wastage I found every listen brought me closer to it. The themes of Thoreau-like separation and longing perspire from it like a deep, beautiful fog, right down to the last line.

Excluding only Sharon Van Etten’s Tramp it is the finest album I’ve heard this year.

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