The Field - "The More That I Do" (Yesterday and Today)
The stakes are high! He (Swede Alex “The Field” Willner) has something to prove! He may not know it! Or care! But music snobs across the Pitchfork-reading world are waiting for the other… clog, or whatever they wear, to drop. And it’s either going to land on SUCCESS. Or, better yet, on FAILURE.
You see, Wellner took us for a weird little ride a couple of years ago, when he released From Here We Go Sublime. It was the rare electronic-music crossover, categorically a “techno” record and yet undeniably a pop record. It was as robotic, repetitive and cold as any “techno” record, and yet it bore the hooks, the reference points, and, most of all, the brevity (few tracks lingered for over a few minutes) that rock/pop fans demand. It gave us the coldness of Kraftwerk with the deep, deep warmth (i.e., reverb) of My Bloody Valentine, and it didn’t use any real instruments. It succeeded. (This album finally expresses my dissatisfaction with prescribed definitions of an undeterminable life. Dig that Lionel Ritchie sample.)
Yesterday and Today is the follow-up. It had better suck, or a lot of people are going to be pissed.
It doesn’t. Nor does it completely safeguard Willner from mainstream ridicule. The songs/pieces/tracks are too long. They take too long getting where they’re going. Everyone loses. But it’s a good record. Hang onto it. Thinking beyond five-minute intervals – it’s the least we can aspire to.
Like any critic’s darling on a mission, Willner indulges his counter-intuition right and left here. He displays no aspirations toward the mathematically transcendent, blissfully nerdy heights of “good” techno producers (all of his songs/pieces/tracks find their hook and pretty much stay there), and he rarely makes any of the obvious come-ons toward hit-dom. The closest thing to a single is yet another cover of “Everybody’s Gotta Learn Sometime” (Korgis! Not Beck! Korgis!), which (finally) gets abstracted into noisy know-nothing bliss. Likewise, the balance is selfishly, irrepressively arty. The next-closest thing to a single is the title cut (featuring a dude from Battles), which could be something but breaks down into an honest-to-god slap-bass breakdown. That’s what it sounds like.
So… the indie mainstream gets denied its Moby. But the rest of us, who don’t mind getting hypnotized with no purpose when we’re bored, get a good litmus-test fuck record. If you can put on this record and get a piece without comment, put a ring on it, my friend. You guys will survive through the most interesting times.