Stockholm’s Axel Willner aka The Field, joined the Cologne based Kompakt family back in 2005 with the release of his 12” debut “Things Keep Falling Down”. His ability to sample the familiar into something new combined with a deep adoration for Kompakt co-owner Wolfgang Voigt’s GAS and M:I:5 electronics sound, the shoe gazer rock of Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine, the loops of Seefeel and german 1970´s experimental electronics served to inspire a new fusion of ambient and techno. This path continued with a remix of the Annie’s pop smash Heartbeat that resulted in The Field becoming a cult favorite amongst bloggers which continues today. The real turning point was The Field’s remix of Scandinavian rockers 120 Days. Found on over 200 blogs and webzines, it was this record that exposed The Field to legions of new fans. His second single “Sun & Ice” and a remix for James Figurine (The Postal Service) poised him for the much anticipated release of his full length debut.
“From Here We Go Sublime” was released in March 2007 and shattered all expectations. Along with such artists such as M83, Dan Deacon, Junior Boys and Girl Talk, the record forged a new direction of indie-electronic –breaking down the confines, which had plagued electronic music for so long. The press adored the album, Metacritic calling it the ‘best reviewed album of 2007’ while Pitchfork awarding it a coveted 9.0 rating stating, “Willner’s triumph on From Here We Go 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.”
Willner followed the release of From Here We Go Sublime with non-stop touring. It would prove a pivotal time for the artist. While on tour with !!! in North America, Willner would grow increasingly weary of the limitations of performing alone with only a laptop. Upon returning to Stockholm, Willner teamed up with friends – percussionist/bass player Dan Enqvist and multi-instrumentalist Andreas Söderstrom (who also performs under the name Ass and also as a member of Taken By Trees, Pallin, and Tenniscoats) to see what they could accomplish playing together. Willner had also begun collecting vintage synthesizers and gear. Following their live debut in Stockholm, The Field went on to perform across Europe and North America, headlining slots at Sonar, Field Day, All Tomorrow’s Parties and Mutek. And though Willner remains the primary force behind The Field, the union between the three musicians has had an undeniable effect on Willner and on the sound of his new album “Yesterday & Today.” “I’ve enjoyed the sound and the state we have been in as a band,” he explains. “And I very much wanted to bring that to the recording of the new album.”
Willner spent November of 2008 alone in Berlin setting up and recording the framework of what would eventually become “Yesterday & Today”. With demos in hand, he headed back to Stockholm and to a friend’s house in the countryside where they set up a temporary studio and weeks of constant recording ensued. “Friends were coming and leaving and recording with us,” Willner says. “The atmosphere was very open and the sessions we very jam like. It was an ideal way for me to record and create.”
Yesterday & Today is over an hour long with only six songs – a testament to the recording process and the modernized elements of kraut rock that resonate throughout it. The track “Sequenced” recalls the ambient rhythmic drive of seventies Krautrock supergroup, Harmonia. Willner surprises again by diving into a reinvented version of The Korgis pop classic “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime” with washes of synthetic ambience and a methodically tapping glockenspiel, the vocals whispering the chorus yet teasingly refraining from engaging the hook. Fans of the From Here We Go Sublime album will rejoice in the new records first single “The More That I Do” with Willner’s sample riddled vocal loops accompanied by a colossal blend of synths, guitars, and percussion. Together with John Stanier of Battles on percussions and band mate Dan Enquist on bass, the record’s title track moves from Willner’s epic flow into Stanier’s masterful beats. The Field manages to show a lighter side with the opening track (and perhaps the best song name ever) “I Have The Moon, You Have The Internet” while the song “Leave It” croons with a near modern classical feel that seems to herald a new era for fans of Steve Reich and Philip Glass.
With the release of his startling sophomore effort, Yesterday & Today, The Field has now clearly vaulted himself well beyond the laptop, embracing the unique sounds of his past while forging an entirely new sounding Krautrock of the future. Andreas Söderström left the group in summer 2009 and was replaced by Jesper Skarin. Jesper is playing the drums and Dan is playing bass/synth.