This Is How We Fly - Foreign Fields review: sounds from an otherwordly universe

THIS IS HOW WE FLYForeign Fields ****Independent release

Foreign Fields
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Artist: This Is How We Fly
Genre: World Music
Label: Independent Release

Shifting and sliding time signatures, elusive wisps of sound and an irrepressible appetite for mining the unknown all seem to be at the heart of This Is How We Fly’s much-anticipated follow-up to their eponymous 2013 debut.

Michigan-born percussive dancer Nic Gareiss revels in exploring the underside of every floorboard he encounters, seeking out not only the rhythmic possibilities but also the slip-sliding brush strokes more usually associated with a jazz drummer. And far from being sidelined by Gareiss' antics, Swedish drummer Petter Berndalen dashes and dives in and out between those dance steps, clearly revelling in the jousting match that ensues.

Weaving in and around this pair is the sinuous maypole that is Seán MacErlaine's woodwind instruments (particularly clarinet) and electronica. Caoimhín Ó Raghallaigh brings his characteristically wide-angle lens to the mix, his fiddles navigating a very fine line of minimalism (now) and utter immersion in the body of the tune (then), as he does on The Fiddle.

This is music that effortlessly spans the worlds of traditional, contemporary, jazz and electronica, drawing listeners into its soundscape with a welcoming embrace. And even when This Is How We Fly (such an apt name they’ve chosen) veer into deep musical space, they lure the listener with them – at times by stealth, but never under duress.


This is an exceptionally rounded and cohesive collection in which the music and percussive forces reign supreme in a kind of otherworldly universe that feels infinitely more alluring than the current one, betimes. This is music that rejoices in playing with the space/time continuum. Foreign fields indeed.

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long

Siobhán Long, a contributor to The Irish Times, writes about traditional music and the wider arts