‘Yesterday & Today’ is the new album from The Field released on Kompakt in May
Stockholm’s own Axel Willner, aka The Field, joined the Cologne based Kompakt family back in 2005 with the release of his cherished 12” debut “Things Keep Falling Down”. His uncanny ability for sampling the all too familiar into something new combined with the adoration for Kompakt co-owner Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS and M:I:5 music projects from the ’90’s and the shoegaze rock of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine brought forward a new fusion of ambient and techno that nobody here can ever recollect being accomplished. The road was paved and continued on with a remix of Annie that leapt onto the web – The Field immediately became a cult favorite amongst the blogging community in which continues to be the case to this day. The turning point for The Field could well have been his remix of Vice Records Scandinavian rockers, 120 Days. Available on over 200 blogs and web zines, this exposed The Field to a whole new realm of fans. With his 2nd single for Kompakt, “Sun & Ice” and a remix for James Figurine (of The Postal Service fame) this poised him for the release of his debut album.
“From Here We Go Sublime” was released in March 2007 and shattered everyone’s expectations, trailblazing a path for a new generation of indie-electronic musicians together with M83, Dan Deacon, Junior Boys and Girl Talk. These artists had a profound effect in breaking down the confines of genre that had inflicted electronic music for so many years. The press adored his album, leading online review score keeper, Metacritic claim “…Sublime” as the ‘best reviewed album of 2007’ and there’s his coveted 9.0 rating on Pitchfork where they hailed the album as “Willner’s triumph on Sublime remains how he manages to isolate and repeat his little moments, transmuting them through the basic dance music building blocks of juxtaposition and repetition into something bigger, wringing pleasure out of the always potentially dull aforementioned “sound sculpting”….”…If Willner doesn’t hit at least some of your pleasure centers, well, forget your ears– your nerve endings might actually be dead.” The consequence of this period has had a tremendously positive effect on how the mainstream has come to accept indie-electronic music. The current successes of Animal Collective’s very electronic driven new album speak volumes about this topic.
This all followed with non-stop touring around the world, taking him on the road with LCD Soundsystem, !!! and others around a tireless schedule. This would prove to a pivotal time for Willner while touring with !!! across North America. He became weary of performing alone and the limitations of what came with a laptop performance…upon returning to Stockholm he got together with his good friends percussionist/bass player Dan Enqvist and multi-instrumentalist Andreas Söderstrom (who also performs under the guise Ass and also as a member of Taken By Trees, Pallin, and Tenniscoats) to see what could be accomplished. Beyond that, he had begun collecting vintage synthesizers and gear. Following their first show in Stockholm on November 30, 2007 as a live band, The Field have gone on to perform together across Europe and North America including headlining slots at Sonar, Field Day, All Tomorrow’s Parties and Mutek. Though Willner remains as the sole force behind The Field, the brotherly union of these three has proven to have a profound effect on Willner and the overall sound of his new album “Yesterday And Today”.
“I’ve enjoyed the sound and the state we´ve been in as a “band” and I wanted to bring that to recording of the new album…” – Axel Willner.
In his new home of Berlin, Willner spent some weeks in November 2008 alone setting up and recording the framework of what would become “Yesterday And Today”. From there, with demos in hand he headed back to Stockholm and together with his gear and headed out to a friend’s house in the countryside. They set up a temporary studio and a week of constant recording ensued. As Willner tells “Friends were coming and leaving and recording with us. The atmosphere was very open and the sessions were very jam like. It was ideal for me to record and create.”. One immediately notices the fact that the album is over an hour long however there are only six songs on the album – a statement of the recording process and the modern elements of kraut rock that resonates throughout “Yesterday And Today”…for example, the most unlikely song to come from The Field, closing track “Sequenced” recalls the wisdom and fluency that ‘70’s greats Harmonia euphoric drive characterized in their songs. This term ‘euphoric’ will sure to be a constant word on the tips of many tongues while listening to the album. In what is sure to become an album highlight, Willner dives into The Korgis classic “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime”. The Field rides you above tidal waves synthetic wash while a glockenspiel patiently taps throughout…the vocals whisper the chorus but tease the listener by refraining sharing the hook. Die hard fans of his first album will rejoice with the first single “The More That I Do”….his sample riddled vocal loops come to life with a colossal blend of synths, guitars, and live percussion. Together with John Stanier of Battles on percussion and band mate Dan Enquist on bass, the title track moves from Willner’s epic flow then flips around into Stanier masterfully tackling the beats into submission. The Field shows a lighter side that before demonstrated with the opening track (and best song name ever) “I Have The Moon, You Have The Internet” and also “Leave It” croon with an near modern classical flair which potentially heralds a new era of enjoyment for fans of Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Finally, Willner then travelled to Cologne in February, 2009 where Jörg Burger (aka The Modernist, Burger/Voigt) and Michael Mayer mixed down the album at Kompakt’s recording studios.
Above and beyond, it’s a safe bet to state that The Field has succeeded taking himself beyond the laptop and present us with a tremendous sophomore effort that not only embraces his unique signature sound of the past, but presents us with a new perspective on kraut rock unheard of until now.
artist: The Field
title: Yesterday and Today
label: Kompakt, DE.
release: 18 May 09
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