The Field Continues to Evade Definition

Yesterday and Today (Kompact/Anti-), though strikingly original, follows the artist's blueprint.

The Field, Yesterday and Today

The Field, Yesterday and Today

The Field, Yesterday and Today

The Field, Yesterday and Today

If pinning Swedish producer Axel Willner, aka The Field, down to a precise micro-genre of electronic music is important to you, you’ll find his second album just as infuriating as his first full-length, 2007’s From Here We Go Sublime. The subtlety of Willner’s production, which stitches synthesizers and tiny, barely recognizable samples together with loping beats, and the hypnotic repetition of his song structures make Yesterday and Today equally suitable for either headphones or the dancefloor. Part trance, part minimal techno, part glitchy ambient, the album none of those and all of those.

For all of its striking originality, though, Willner’s method is a blueprint. A good one, but a blueprint all the same. Even the cover song on Yesterday and Today, a Willnerized version of The Korgis’ ’80s hit single “Everybody Got to Learn Sometime,” is, aside from its fully realized vocals, hard to differentiate from the other five songs. At least until the bare-bones pummeling provided by the 15-minute closer, “Sequenced,” a sweaty Krautrock marathon that stands out from everything that comes before it.

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