In 2013, Berwick Film & Media Arts Festival commissioned Field Music to compose a new cinematic score to accompany Drifters, a seminal silent documentary by John Grierson, the pioneering Scottish filmmaker known for coining the term ‘documentary.’ The film follows the working day of a herring fishing fleet as they set sail from the Shetland Islands to battle the elements of the North Sea fishing grounds and originally premiered in 1929 alongside Eisenstein’s Battleship Potemkin.
The Sunderland band were ideal candiates for such a task in living in such close proximity to the North Sea themselves. “It was quite easy to imagine the harbour scenes happening down by the river in Sunderland or in Whitby or Alnmouth or Berwick” recalls David Brewis.
Having spent the autumn of last year revisiting the score in their Wearside studio, Field Music will release their soundtrack for Drifters this summer. Completely instrumental, it's the first time the band constructed anything from improvising together “I suppose we had some idea before we started that we’d write slow, spacious, atmospheric music in a classically “cinematic” style but the film just isn’t like that at all - it’s full of movement and collage and jump-cuts. We realised that if we echoed the rhythm, the momentum on-screen, then we could make something which fit the film and also sounded like us. Some sections solidified into something “composed” quite quickly and some sections have stayed quite spontaneous.” explains Brewis.
The album reunites the original line-up of Peter, David and keyboardist Andrew Moore, with the addition of regular Field Music bassist Andrew Lowther for the live performances. Audiences across the UK have had the opportunity to experience screenings of Drifters with live accompaniment by Field Music at cinemas in Glasgow, Swansea, Belfast and Dublin this spring and summer.