Posts Tagged ‘Benedict Kupstas (Field Guides)’

Ahead of much-anticipated full-length releases due later this year, friends and fellow Brooklyn musicians Nico Hedley and Benedict Kupstas (Field Guides) are releasing a limited edition split 7″, due out February 14 on Whatever’s Clever. (The first run of 100 copies come in Risographed sleeves designed by Kupstas.) 

Nico Hedley is a singer-songwriter from New York City who has played in numerous bands over the last decade, including Drew Citron, Beverly, Ben Seretan Group, and Alpenglow. Field Guides—the Brooklyn-based collective fronted by Benedict Kupstas—have been described as “sprawling, dense, and mysterious” by Big Takeover. Their sophomore album, “This Is Just A Place” also released on Whatever’s Clever in 2019—was hailed as “one of the year’s most rewarding discoveries” by GoldFlakePaint. Hedley and Kupstas have been frequent collaborators over the years (they once toured together in a maroon conversion van with a temperamental engine and a Settlers of Catan bumper sticker).

“Worldly” and “The City Is A Painting” are taproots of connection in a time of continued lock-downs and social distance. Whisky-soaked voices and wistful lyricism reflect what it is to watch the world unfurl into new uncertainties. Recorded together on an 8-track tape machine in Hedley’s home studio, both songs carry the clear influence of Jason Molina (Songs: Ohia, Magnolia Electric Co.), sharing his raw and poignant approach to dynamic Americana songwriting. Hedley’s forlorn pedal steel provides a ghostly tapestry across the two sides.

The songs were mixed by the brilliant and idiosyncratic songwriter/producer, Katie Von Schleicher, who also played piano on Field Guides’ “The City Is A Painting.”

Hedley played all the instruments on “Worldly,” a melancholic slice of alt-country that sounds beamed in from some distant lonesome highway, imagining what could have been. “I’ll believe it when I see it coming ’round,” Hedley sings, bolstered by the sparse, home-spun arrangement. The dynamic 3/4 dirge rises and falls, the instruments reflecting the pathos of lines like “For our hearth is warmed with loving coals / but is stoked by only wanting.”

Nico Hedley produced & engineered both songs. He played all the instruments on “Worldly.” He also wrote that tune. He played drums, bass, and pedal steel—and sang—on “The City Is A Painting.”

Benedict Kupstas wrote “The City Is A Painting,” on which he sang and played guitars. He also did the art & design; this was printed at Eureka! in Kingston, NY, Sean Mullins played some tambourine on “The City Is A Painting.”

“The City Is A Painting” foregoes Field Guides’ usual lush orchestration for a more direct but no less stirring song situated at the twangier edge of the band’s oeuvre. The fuzz guitar solo calls to mind Destroyer circa Streethawk: A Seduction, while Kupstas’s earthy baritone is joined by Hedley’s harmonies for the buoyant chorus, melancholy yet hopeful: “I know all she’s got left to spend / is her time on me, so let’s pretend / that I’ve got all the time in the world…”

Considering this period’s forced isolation, a certain commitment to camaraderie runs through these recordings. The two songs appear as signals to each other, gestures reaching out in the dark. The split 7” is intended—as its release date suggests—to be a valentine, a love letter to the artists’ cherished community of peers and collaborators. A video for the songs feature collaged clips from many of those fellow artists. Kupstas had this to say about the video:

“Back in the beginning of this collective fever dream, Nico and I recorded some music and conceived of a split 7” as a love letter to our cherished community. Then, as a way to keep from slipping into the discombobulating muck of isolation, we asked some friends to send us clips to accompany our songs. If we’re being honest (and we’re lousy liars anyhow), we really just missed seeing our friends’ faces. I can’t begin to convey just how much these folks have buoyed me during this bizarre and often sombre period. I’m not sure how many music videos have been such overt acts of self-preservation, but this one is more than a mere palliative for these lonely times: it’s a quilted mirror, a goofy celebration of our community (and of community as a concept). I hope it brings you at least a small bit of the delight it brings me.”


“Worldly” and “The City Is A Painting” are out February 14th on Whatever’s Clever Records.

Katie Von Schleicher mixed both songs & played piano on “The City Is A Painting.”

Released February 14th, 2021