Published Mar 30, 2016The Field's fourth record, Cupid's Head, was the first to come packaged in black instead of cream-coloured album art. The change heralded a similar progression in Axel Willner's music: much of the levity and playfulness of his first records was replaced by a more dark and dense sound. The Follower, Willner's latest, arrives in similarly plain and dark packaging, and its contents mostly follow the mood of its predecessor.
But though The Follower is similar to Cupid's Head, Willner's knack for tweaking his sound enough to make it feel fresh is once again on display. He experiments with irregular rhythms more than ever on The Follower, while still preserving a sense of musicality throughout (inscrutable math techno, this isn't). Willner also manages to craft some of his most emotionally charged sonic textures to date, especially in The Follower's more ambient-leaning cuts.
The first three tracks are the more club-ready of the set. They include "Monte Verità," with its commanding hi-hat pattern, chopped vocal samples and washed-out synths atop a steady boom-chick beat. The last three are more subdued, and linger slowly as Willner teases lush and spacious synth tones out of his newly acquired modular setup. Occasionally, Willner's penchant for repetition is taken a little far here, but in most cases, it serves to heighten the drama of changes when they do come, as it does with the surprise marching drum ending of the title track, or with the occasional key changes in "Monte Verità."
In a culture that tends to prefer celebrating the new and novel, the appearance of yet another excellent LP by the Field might feel like old news. But that doesn't make the incredible The Follower any less worthy of a listen. (Kompakt)