When I was writing about the Lindstrom & Prins Thomas album a while back, I mentioned there was more Scandinavian electronic goodness forthcoming from The Field. “Yesterday And Today” is Axel Willner’s second album in this guise and, risking one of those winsome climatic references, it works great walking to work on a bright spring morning like this one.
Lumping The Field and Lindstrom & Prins Thomas together is a bit lazy, of course – perhaps a result of me not writing about techno that regularly here. There are occasional vague affinities: “Sequenced” on “Yesterday And Today” has a certain kosmische gleam to it which you can also detect on the new Lindstrom & Prins Thomas. But whereas that duo tend towards a sort of euphoric noodle, The Field’s music is predominantly tidal, gauzy, rich and linear.
At times, you could just about align Willner’s music with that dubious neo-shoegazing school of electronica, epitomised by people like Ulrich Schnauss, that I’m always so suspicious of. There’s a vocal loop in “The More That I Do” that could conceivably be sampled from the Cocteau Twins, for instance, but its aligned to a fiercely propulsive rhythm.
Mostly, this is aestheticised dance music rather than ethereal whimsy, both transporting and meaty. “I Have The Moon, You Have The Internet” opens the album, and has a sort of rippling, saturated quality which reminds me of how M83 are often described, but rarely sound to me. “Leave It”, meanwhile, is 11 and a half minutes of what, in more innocent times, we might’ve called ambient trance, with twinkling bells that evoke Glastonbury dawns of the early ‘90s, Megadogs, and various other events which have long lost their hipster cachet. Sounds great, nevertheless.
Even Willner’s soppiest conceits are successful. A cover of The Korgis’ “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime” is initially glitchy and gaseous, a Kompakt relative of 10cc‘s “I’m Not In Love”, before the frail vocals and soft-focus edits are overwhelmed by vast synth waves. Epically pretty, virtually to the point of absurdity, but still compelling.
At the other extreme, once the necessary whooshing is done with, the title track ends up as a comparatively tough breakbeat workout, with Dan Enquist on bass and the mighty John Stanier from Battles behind the kit. Maybe that’s the greatest strength of “Yesterday And Today”: whenever there’s a danger of everything becoming too fluffy, Willner remembers to hit the gas.