Understanding The Electronic Genius of Three Fields

Compositions from Three Fields are mesmerizing pieces that remind of early ambient masters

By , Columnist

Three Fields is the adopted moniker for an ambient artist from Birmingham, a populous and bustling city found in England. The man behind the name has a rare and amazing talent in that his musical compositions extend beyond the casual playback of experimental notes.  Each song in his several short EPs are based on short progressions of notes, wrapped in broad swirls of what some may refer to as space music.  And yet, some may go beyond the designation of space music and call the beautiful sonic textures music from the soul.

Regardless how you perceive ambient textures, the compositions by the man known as Three Fields are rich works that can draw mentions of Tangerine Dream, Tomita, and other early masters of electronic music.

After the release of his latest EP, the six-track album called Wild Blue Yonder, I had the opportunity to probe a little into the creative mind of Three Fields in an attempt to discover where the music comes from and where future compositions might be headed.

Matt Rowe - Who is Three Fields?

Three Fields - Three Fields is a composer/producer in the suburbs of Birmingham, England, with three EPs released so far, with an album out sometime next year.

MR - What brought Three Fields into being?

TF - I always enjoyed music classes at school, writing short pieces on the keyboards. I had a small Yamaha at home too, which was used a lot. One way or another, I never stopped.  In the mid-2000s, I discovered Reason, and the potential of the home studio. Then a switch to Cubase for the most recent work.

MR - If you are influenced by past electronic masters, who does Three Fields draw inspiration from, collectively and individually? Where do the musical ideas come from that lead to the eventual creation of songs? Do you see and hear something inside of yourself?

TF - I’ve never really been one for taking direction, as if it then stops being your own work. More a case of knowing there are others out there, doing work that sounds like me, and that the market for electronica still seems strong.  Being part of that community, hearing Ulrich Schnauss for the first time, on the Elizabethtown soundtrack, and discovering the rest of his work.  Jon Hopkins opening for Coldplay. Four Tet too.

MR -  "How It Rains Here" (from Wild Blue Yonder) is a beautiful soundwave piece with a forward/backward note progression at the heart of it. It has elements found in the curtain-like musical gauze heard within the album, Voices by Roger Eno. I wish it were longer (as I do many of the pieces heard).  Are there plans to create an album of longer pieces that may connect with each other?

TF - I’ve thought about composing longer tracks, using drums too, but my tracks always end at the shorter side of the scale. Maybe that’s what I do best, or I need to experiment more.

MR - Where do you find the inspiration to create the pieces that Three Fields make aural realities?

TF - I sometimes go to the keyboard with an idea, but it’s usually a case of jamming with the different sounds/instruments I have, and waiting for something to happen.  Letting the process take a natural path, and not trying to force it too much.

MR - Often, music like this is called space music. It's a term I hate but I can see why it's called this by many. For me, the music is more like something that your inner being would create, things within the individual galaxies and universes that we all have within us -- that's my take on it.  What do you call your music? 

TF - ‘Melodic ambient’ is one name I could use. The spacey atmospheric sounds, with clear notes in there too. Loops riding over backsynths.  Nothing too dark, but not poppy either. 

MR - Fame is not as easy to come by these days like it was back decades ago when Tangerine Dream turned electronic music into an art form celebrated by many. For me, Stratosfear is a classic of an inner soundtrack. What do you think it would take for Three Fields to turn their brilliant music into a well-received art form, followed by, hopefully, bankable cash?  And does Three Fields feel that a classic like TD's Stratosfear is inevitable? (I do!) 

TF - Was it easier then?  If something is new, I suppose it does have the novelty factor attached.  But, over time, the market for a genre can become more established, so a better chance of getting noticed.  I don’t think there is/will ever be a clear path to fame.  All you can do is put your work out there, and keep at it.  Try and connect to as many people as you can, and take every opportunity.  If you quit, you’ll end up nowhere. Of all the musicians in the world, I’m sure there aren’t many who make a living from it.  It would make a satisfying second job though. That’s what I’m hoping for, anyway. As for Stratosfear, did the TD boys think a classic was inevitable? 

MR - Often, in listening to songs from Wild Blue Yonder, I feel unfulfilled.  With engaging tunes like "A Distant Star," which just ends rather than fade, and stunning pieces like "How It Rains Here," which makes me feel adrift and then is over, and "Like Vortices," which is a dramatic, fuller piece that I wish could go on even further without suddenly ending (as it does), certainly longer than the 4 minutes, 38-seconds it does.  In short, the songs feel fragmentary, as if they should be a part of a greater whole, a singular movement to a larger work.  Are there any plans to go back and flesh out some of these pieces, letting them become the soundscapes they were meant to mature into? 

TF - As I said before, shorter tracks are what I know, so that’s what I put out.  Considering the work already done by TD and Klaus Schulze, along with the other Berlin School style artists, shorter tracks give the listener something different. Maybe it’s a confidence thing, where I don’t want to overstay my welcome. Or I could find someone to remix a few tracks, and see what potential for ‘maturity’ there is. 

MR - Do you have a favorite piece on Wild Blue Yonder?  Personally, I'm entranced by "On," which stays with me long after the music has quit playing.

TF - “Like Vortices” is the one everybody seems to be going for. It sums up the EP, and everything I’ve done up to now. The place to start, for those unfamiliar with my work. 

MR - Is there an intent to make an album of connected songs, songs that need each other to survive rather than a collection of great showcase pieces?

TF - The new album will be more short pieces, similar to what I’ve done with WBY.  No plans for a 15-20 minuter just yet. We’ll see what the future brings.

You can download "Like Vortices" or stream the track.  Either way, the introduction to Three Fields is a gift. I hope that it will lead you further in.

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Matt Rowe began his life with an AM radio, listening to anything that was considered music. Since, he has labored intently to build a collection of music, paring it down, rebuilding, and refining as he sees fit. His decided goal is to keep up with new music by panning for the nuggets among literal mountains…

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