Out of left field

Local experimental band field//// captures moments that will never be repeated with new disc

Field of Dreams: Local experimental band field//// is made up of Greg Hanec, Scott Ellenberger, Tavis Walker and Thor Aitkenhead. Supplied

Greg Hanec has been making art in Winnipeg since the early ‘80s. As a director he made the first film to come out of the Winnipeg Film Group, Downtime, which just became available for the first time on DVD.

Outside of filmmaking, he’s been playing in experimental bands for about 20 years.

“At that point everyone was doing the Nirvana thing - the boots, the plaid, the toque,” Hanec, 52, says. “I was always doing experimental music. I’d do songs too sometimes, but it was usually do a song and then do a thing where we improvise with trombone and harmonica and the traombonist can’t even play the trombone, but we had pedals.”

Aside from the experimental music he makes as Philia and in the groups Suture and Echocity, Hanec is also in field////, the four-piece that is releasing its self-titled debut disc with a show on Saturday, Nov. 3 at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church.

Arranged freeform, the spontaneity of the band, which also includes Scott Ellenberger, Tavis Walker and Thor Aitkenhead, makes it one of Winnipeg’s most interesting acts.

“We’ll have at least five or six instruments and then, say if it’s a 40-minute piece, Thor will design the first few minutes, like three minutes of clarinet, two minutes of trumpet. We have watches on stage (to keep track),” Hanec says. “We’ll each design 10 minutes then randomly flip the order of it. But within that, that’s what is arranged freeform. No notes are planned, nothing is planned.”

I think on the CD I’m doing really mellow kind of Bitches Brew trumpet, but who knows? Maybe I’ll do Ornette Coleman freak outs.

Greg Hanec

Echocity recently played an equally experimental piece as part of Nuit Blanche.

“We went out to this school at 2 a.m. and we just found a nice echoey corner, the leaves were blowing around and we just recorded it there,” he says. “So it’s very, not cutting edge, but very experimental.”

It’s common that live versions of tunes won’t be exactly as they are on the album, but field//// takes it a few steps further.

“Nothing is going to sound anything like the CD,” he says. “I think on the CD I’m doing really mellow kind of Bitches Brew trumpet, but who knows? Maybe I’ll do Ornette Coleman freak outs.”

Recorded, mixed and mastered in one take at Home Street Recording with Jeff Patteson, the disc is a great representation of the work Hanec has been doing for the last 30 years within the arts community.

In between making films and playing in bands he’s also worked at the Graffiti Gallery for nine years and has championed the scene in many ways.

“In Winnipeg, if you’re a creative person and you want to share your creativity, people will welcome you,” he says. “Look at Scott Ellenberger, he’s in field////, he’s in Mahogany Frog, now he’s joining Dust Adam Dust. There’s a great cross-pollination in Winnipeg. Now I’m in these four bands, they’re all great, easy to work with people.

“I’m always like, a band is more of a marriage than a friendship, because you’re always like you’ve got to hold the other person up. You’ve got to be there on time, you’re in public, are you going to make me look bad?”

Published in Volume 67, Number 9 of The Uniter (October 31, 2012)

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