The Field The Follower on Import 180g 2LP + Download
Much-celebrated Kompakt staple The Field returns to the spotlight with new album The Follower, his fifth full-length offering. Swedish soundsmith Axel Willner is well-known for his mastery when it comes to the allusive layering of loops, but it was with his last album Cupid's Head that a newly-found, somewhat pressing snappishness started to replace the soft-hued sonics of his ambient-infused techno, imbued with a darker mood and stronger footing than before. A carefully gauged balance of stoic motorik and gloomy drones was key here - just as it is for The Follower which goes even further in blurring the lines between concrete experimentation, body music and precisely laid-out arrangement, leading to one of the most rhythmically and texturally engaging listening experiences in Willner's catalog.
"As always when starting a new album, I wanted to do something that sounds fresh, but doesn't stray too far from what I have so far done as The Field - and that's always the tricky part," says Willner, adding that "the whole album came around through experimenting with a lot of new recording equipment and gear." That source of inspiration seems to have worked rather well, with title track opening on a surprisingly muscular groove and setting the tone for what could be considered The Field's most floor-attuned work yet - a raw bounce dripping with foggy acid and marching percussion catches long-standing fans off-guard while providing a perfect entry point for curious newcomers.
Follow-up cut "Pink Sun" quickly finds its pace with one of these perpetually rotating hooks Willner is known for, while "Monte Verita" specializes in tunefully glitched vocal samples with accompanying bass workout - a powerful and propelling album build-up that finds its first moment of introspection with the mountainous "Soft Streams," an exciting synth journey that emits both ethereal and kinetic propensities. "Raise The Dead" presents The Field's focused sonic storytelling at its minimalist best, gyrating around a basic motive for a while before joining an earthy beat and opening up the sunshine roof. It's a winding, hypnotic track that also works particularly well as transition to the album's remarkable closing chapter: the slow-paced "Reflecting Lights" shows Willner at his most refined, evoking his often-quoted appreciation of Wolfgang Voigt's ambient project Gas as well as an obvious fondness for kraut synthesists and their trance-inducing exploits.
"The Follower is about old myths, finding utopia and how mankind repeatedly makes the same mistakes over and over," explains Willner, but he remains an artist who prefers keeping things uncommented and the mystery intact - his latest full-length certainly doesn't need more introductions: it evidently shows a maturity and consistent evolution of The Field's trademark style of creation, but may very well be considered one of his most vibrant and visceral outings yet.