LISTEN: These New Puritans – Fragment Two

First full taste of TNP's forthcoming third album, Field Of Reeds

Photograph courtesy of Willy Vanderperre

As we’ve previously reported, These New Puritans are set to release their third album, Field Of Reeds, on June 10 via Infectious Music, and you can now listen to the first full track, ‘Fragment Two’, to be taken from the album:

The track’s an impressive statement of intent for what we can vouch is an album that’s little short of astonishing. The familiar TNP elements are there: stark instrumentation, with each element existing in acres of space, Jack Barnett’s murmured tenor and the militarily-precise drums (we’re not kidding; the recording you hear on the record is Jack’s brother George’s 76th go). But for a band that never lacked in it, the vaulting ambition the track reveals is staggering: built on a skeletal piano backbone regulated by the stuttering beat, the track gets gilded by immaculate layers, from the lyrics, only snatches of which are fully audible – “in between the islands where we used to swim” – intoning a cloudy narrative, to the filmic trumpet volleys at the end (perhaps suggesting the influence of collaborating soundtrack arranger Hans Ek), forging something that feels greater than its 4-and-a-half minute length.

The album was started on the tour supporting their previous album Hidden in 2011, with Jack Barnett scoring all of the brass, woodwind and percussion parts and enlisting an impressive number of figures from the classical contemporary scene to collaborate, including conductor André de Ridder and composer Michel van der Aa, as well as Portugese jazz singer Elisa Rodrigues (pictured above, in a shot reminiscent of another rather ace bunch…) on a number of tracks.

As well as a recording of a woman recalling Herb Alpert’s 1968 version of ‘This Guy’s In Love With You’ for the record’s opening track, the album also makes use of the natty-sounding Magic Resonator Piano, devised by Professor Andrew McPherson at Queen Mary university, “a kind of torture device for pianos, using optics and magnets,” explains Barnett: “A lot of sounds that you might think are electronic or synthetic are actually made by this. This is the first time it’s been used outside a relatively small number of contemporary classical performances.”

Speaking about the words on the record, Barnett adds: “I tried to make all the lyrics and songs mean something, something very specific; I don’t like it when you’re allowed to be singing about nothing in particular – I was inspired by people like Stephen Sondheim, Oscar Hammerstein, Kurt Weill. The device at the end of ‘Light In Your Name’, where the lyric splits into the two singers’ perspectives, is nicked from my favourite song, ‘Send In The Clowns’ by Stephen Sondheim.”

The band have also added another date, supporting Björk at L.A.’s Hollywood Bowl, to the handful they announced previously:


Sat 8 – Hostess Club Weekender, Garden Hall, Tokyo

Tue 11 – Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles w/ Björk

Mon 17 – Café De La Danse, Paris

Wed 19 – Heaven, London

Wed 26 – Heimathafen Neukölln, Berlin

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