Dan Abrams has delivered another major micro-sound effort. Seventeen years after his Frame release earned him breathless comparisons to Aphex Twin and Brian Eno, Abrams' Field is set to delight headphone owners around the world.
In some respects, the album is a throwback to that long-forgotten era of 486 processors and "new media." Abrams was one of the early artists to discover the beauty to be found amidst all those clicks and beeps. The work — which at the time could only be compared to malfunctioning audio CDs — turned out to have surprising staying power. Despite its firm roots in early micro-sound, this new album is daringly futuristic.
It opens with the 80-second "Star," an awkward beat piece reminiscent of New Order's "5-8-6" from Power, Corruption & Lies. It's a treat to hear electronics put to such provocative use.
Next is "Caudex," a track more representative of the full, grit-infused Abrams palette. His work has all the elements of your favourite electronic music, except that he has no interest in drawing you onto the dance floor. This is music to be consumed privately, in a space that allows you to focus on its detailed complexity.
"Edule" is one of the album's few tracks to feature a synth line performed conventionally. Set against looped glitch noise, it lifts the track and provides one of the album's few emotional highs.
It's not that the album lacks emotion entirely. That's just not Abrams' thing. He is out to engage you intellectually, and to appeal to your willingness to appreciate what remains a novel art form. Field is not an easy listen, but it's never harsh either. In a genre not known for advanced composition, his work continues to raise the bar. (Independent)