- Considering who it comes from, "The Follower," the titular lead track from The Field's fifth album, is surprising. A big kick and metronomic bassline rises at 125 BPM, as a rubbery sawtooth sequence, modulated hi-hats and a staccato riff work their way into the mix. It's the kind of muscular techno that could launch a set full of druggy power, but not what Axel Willner, Kompakt's hypno-loop stalwart, has made his name on. By his standards, "The Follower" is an exercise in abandon—midway through, there's a moment that could almost pass for a drop.
The Follower starts with its brawniest track, but a few others are among Willner's most physical productions. Its elegant melody notwithstanding, "Pink Sun" could be an acidic cousin to Section 25's "Looking From A Hilltop," with a grand sweep—not to mention liberal use of chorus on the bassline—that evokes the '80s classic. "Monte Verità" is also full of urgency, galloping forth as if straining to break free of its loopy structure. Like "The Follower" and "Pink Sun," the song has a propulsive dynamism, and therein lies the rub: trading some vibey texture and introspective ambience for dance floor potency, Willner sacrifices a degree of his core appeal. After all, his knack for mingling sensuous intimacy with fantastical grandeur is what made The Field's best records so rewarding.
Defined by repetition and mesmerizing as ever, The Follower isn't a huge stretch for Willner. Its best moments are in the second half, when the music revels in ethereality. The gently shuffling "Soft Streams" glides through an ocean of echo, as hints of plaintive melody beckon from the shoreline. "Raise The Dead" gazes upward, with shards of radiant sun straining to break through its cloudy sky. Album closer "Reflecting Lights" is Wilner at his most romantic—it almost sounds religious with its gentle layers of brass- and harmonium-like timbres. It's interesting when The Follower pushes in a new direction, but these three tracks are Willner doing what he does best, conjuring dreamlike soundtracks for meditative reveries.
01. The Follower
02. Pink Sun
03. Monte Veritá
04. Soft Streams
05. Raise The Dead
06. Reflecting Lights