Concrete Fields goes back in time, more specifically returning to the youth of brothers Sebastian and Daniel Selke (CEEYS). The brothers have produced a record of both genesis and revelation, of origin and continuation. Their music was born here, under hulking, towering skeletons as big as a T. Rex. Over the years, they sheltered and nurtured two developing talents, and now their soulful, elegiac and dignified compositions can emerge. The uninspiring grey slabs have, ironically, proved a creative influence.
Concrete Fields grows up in the gloomy landscape of Europe’s largest prefab estate, Marzahn-Hellersdorf, in Berlin, East Germany. Youth and adulthood are rolled together, and the concrete fields are like glue, or freshly-paved cement, sticking the years together. The grey-skied piano hovers over the gentle heart of the cello. Despite the intimidating buildings, the music is incredibly open.
On Concrete Fields, we grow up with the duo as their chapters unfold. Like all things, every journey starts with a single step, and “Based” begins with a single note, a single motif which develops accordingly, naturally growing up. The piano is joined by its friends, who eagerly knock on the front door, a mud-splattered football cradled between equally muddy hands: want to come out and play? Years spent under monoliths of elephant-grey stone are brought back as recollections, but the duo sidestep fond nostalgia. These are the roots and this is the present, a complete and complementary sound that has, over the years, been the subject of hours and hours and hours and hours of practice and subsequent refinement.
Brothers can share a link bordering on the telepathic, and the same is true when they collaborate in music. The piano and cello are both individuals who nonetheless grow up together, sharing experiences but ultimately expressing different personalities in different ways. Nothing feels out of place, because they were meant to do this; they were born for this. The cello is able to knock down a seemingly impenetrable wall of grey concrete, but it does so quietly – its strength is in its weeping – and it doesn’t have to shout. Music breaks down the most obdurate barriers, liberating cultures, societies, people. Art can break down anything – let’s construct measures of music and not walls.
A light scattering of percussion descends on the music, pecking at the soil like a flock of black crows. But we grow up with the music. We grow taller, shooting up like blades of grass. Edging against the music is the bleak grey of a permanent cloud, the tumbling, mood-swinging thoughts of a discontented teenager. “Reuber” shines through like the sunshine breaking, injecting an intermittent hope into the record, the electronic harmony changing the narrative. And the cello, once sober and crestfallen, is now a beacon of light, a butterfly emerging from the crumpled shell of its cocoon; a moment of maturation. A euphoric and distant distortion covers “Hover, Over, Me”, and the joyous song of children playing echoes, echoes, echoes. Concrete Fields is one of the most powerful records of the year. The brothers now walk in a warm, bright glow and not through dreary grey. (James Catchpole)