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Yesterday and Today
Goes well with Gui Boratto, Ulrich Schnauss, Sascha Funke
It’s been said more than once that a musician has a lifetime to incubate a first album and maybe 18 months to draft a follow-up. And for an electronic artist, there’s the obligation to fill downtime with remixes of other people’s opuses. The sophomore try is even more daunting if you’re Axel Willner, aka The Field, and your first full-length was From Here We Go Sublime, 2007’s widely praised cruise through cloudbanks of trance, shoegaze and house. It cemented The Field as a major player and provided the jewel in Kompakt’s minimal techno crown.
On Yesterday and Today, Willner neither abandons nor surmounts the breezy heights that made his debut so special; instead, he strips down his formula. Before, he relied on a breathy Christine McVie snippet to evoke fleet-footed bliss, but now, he takes us there more naturally, leaving the propulsion to his arpeggiated wind-tunnel synths, low-wattage drum loops (plus guest beats from Battles’ drummer John Stanier) and far-off chimes and tubular bells. The resulting highlights, “Leave It” and “The More I Do,” are certainly less startling but far more granular than the songs from his last LP. Like a flock of birds that seems like a solid entity when viewed at a distance, Yesterday and Today is a thousand downy patterns coalescing into a beautiful structure.