Known both as the guitarist / producer in Death Cab for Cutie and as an in-demand producer of other independent-minded artists (Tegan & Sara, The Decemberists), Chris Walla brings a refined aesthetic and melodic ear to everything he involves himself in. This is his first solo record.
Previously, Walla's recordings of his own songs (occasionally made available online under the name "Martin Youth Auxiliary") have mostly been quickly-recorded lo-fi sketches unintended for widespread release. Field Manual represents the first time his own songs have been given the studio attention and thought-out approach to recording for which he is in such demand by others. Walla played all the instruments on this record, except for drums (drum duty was shared by Jason McGerr and Kurt Dahle.)
Field Manual is both a fairly political and intensely personal record. Ever the diligent observer of the dynamic world around him, Walla scans the constant background hum of news feeds and tag lines, waiting for a radar blip of significance to shine among the clutter. Glossed over and blended into the torrent, it's these specks of deep truth that, when examined free of the numbing din of modernity, resonate deeply with our shared humanity. Its Walla's reactions to these fragments and flecks that we find documented in Field Manual.
Field Manual is a very timely record. Walla has been writing songs since before founding Death Cab for Cutie, but had only ever had time to finish one or two a year. In August of 2006 he decided it was really time to make a record, and once that decision was made everything fell into place.
To help with the expected challenges posed by approaching his own songs with the necessary detachment of a producer, Walla enlisted Warne Livesey (Midnight Oil / The The). Walla loved having another person's energy to feed off of and react to, and having Livesey on board kicked the recording into high gear.
Walla has created a record full of politically charged songs, written for himself yet open to all; elegantly wrapped in instantly memorable melodies, sing-along choruses, and deeply layered sonic explorations.