Release Date: May 19, 2009
Record label: Anti
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental
The Field's sound is haunting and atmospheric, driven by a sequenced mechanical pulse. [rssbreak] The songs progress through the subtle introduction of new elements, which gives the album a minimal techno feel even when non-electronic instruments are in the mix. Vibraphones, guitars, glockenspiels, pianos and drum machines come together to form an idiosyncratic sound that also allows Yesterday And Today to wander between the realms of ambient electronica and lo-fi rock.
Though this is probably not what Axel Willner had in mind when he retired to the Swedish countryside to record this album, Yesterday & Today is absolutely baby-makin' music. For those of you who have been reaching for the Teddy Pendegrass all these long years, Willner's brand of ambient-trance-techno-whatever probably sounds like an inappropriate soundtrack for your carnal fumblings, but consider the album. Yesterday & Today is gorgeous, overwhelming, lush and (mainly) wordless, and it reeks throughout of inarticulable emotion.
In case any doubt remained about Axel Willner's desire to be accessible beyond the realm of electronic dance music, his second album as the Field, Yesterday and Today, was licensed by Kompakt for U.S. release on Anti -- the eclectic, Epitaph-distributed label that was, at the time, pushing releases by Neko Case, Ramblin' Jack Elliot, and Booker T. At the least, it might help him shed some of the false associations that have been made between him and minimal techno, without exception drawn by those who are much more familiar with guitar bands than dance music.
I liked The Field’s debut, From Here We Go Sublime. OK, I liked it a lot. The feeling it engendered, Swedish wunderkind Axel Willner’s debut, was difficult to describe in words. Critics talked about a “constantly expanding” sound, or the idea of “endless crescendos”. What you felt, as a ….
As with any artist whose singular sound wins an admirable cross-section of hearts-- especially in a time when fewer niche artists are rewarded with attention from outside their scene-- it's hard to envy Axel Willner as he follows his debut, the 2007 breakout From Here We Go Sublime. Offer a complete revamp of his paradoxically mist-light-but-brick-dense mix of ambient and trance? He'd be accused of selling out his smitten fanbase. Pack Yesterday and Today with six slabs of self-parodic more-of-the-same? He could await the entitled mewling about wheel-spinning and diminishing returns.
The pulse in a human body is a vital sign. It’s proof of life; a rhythm that every other part of the being works around, not to mention a metronome for the dance-loving masses. In the ambient and minimal techno offshoots of this over-saturated genre, Axel Willner’s The Field caught many an ear with 2007’s quite brilliant From Here We Go Sublime.
One of the best things about truly great music is the way in which it can bookend, parenthesize, envelop, and otherwise soundtrack life. In 2007 I was preparing for a big move, from living in one continent to living in another. In March of that year I heard about an album by a relatively unknown artist on the German Kompakt label. Kompakt releases some remarkable music, most of which is techno, although normally fairly distinct and interesting takes on the genre.
As The Field, Axel Willner has always been known for his meticulously crafted music. And as a master producer of beats and electronics, he’s made sure that when one considers his music, quality should be the predominant sentiment. 2007’s From Here We Go Sublime was, arguably, that year’s best electronic album (not for me; that goes to Pantha Du Prince’s This Bliss) which featured some of the finest minimal techno and trance compositions in quite some time.
The stakes are high! He (Swede Alex “The Field” Willner) has something to prove! He may not know it! Or care! But music snobs across the Pitchfork-reading world are waiting for the other… clog, or whatever they wear, to drop. And it’s either going to land on SUCCESS. Or, better yet, on FAILURE. You see, Wellner took us for a weird little ride a couple of years ago, when he released From Here We Go Sublime.