Dancing By Yourself: The Field’s “The Follower”

Peter Holslin examines the hypnotic qualities of The Field's new single.
By    February 19, 2016

the field

Peter Holslin forgot what time it was.

Listening to Alex Willner’s music as the Field is like stepping into a vortex. Tracks unfold over long stretches, building with the slightest shift like the addition of a hi-hat or the entrance of a barely noticeable synth line. But with all that comes a flickering intensity. I remember once, I tried to hip my friend to From Here We Go to Sublime while he was in the middle of an after-hours shroom trip. The first flickers of clipped loops set in and he couldn’t handle it. But I was all in. Oh, I was.

Willner steps up the intensity on his latest track, “The Follower.” Posted on his SoundCloud the other day, it’s the title track off his recently announced new LP, set for release via Kompakt on April 1. He’s described the new album as an exploration of “how mankind repeatedly makes the same mistakes over and over,” but it’s also about “old myths” and “finding utopia,” and this 12-minute opus he released (a version he performed live in Berlin) offers its own form of earworm-induced escape. As samples stutter and synths circle, the well tempered kick drum pumps along steadily only to fall out and come back in, heralding new movements and deeper levels.

Being able to harness repetition is a gift. It’s not about just playing the same boots-and-pants beat over and over, or assaulting audiences with build-ups and drops. It’s about having the patience to refine that particular stutter of a sample, or get the right texture and pacing of a hi-hat, or hone a squelchy bass synth so it has just the right perfect roundness. “The Follower” is a track that makes you forget time and focus on all that. It does what all great dance music does—let you forget distractions and instead bask in the ecstatic present.

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