Axel Willner – The Field – didn’t do anything revolutionary on From Here We Go Sublime. It didn’t progress his chosen field – although the exact nature of that chosen field can be a little blurry at times on the record? Is it trance? Is it a more European techno? People at the time were enamored with the term “microhouse” and there’s definitely something to that term here. It’s certainly in a broad sense house music: the 4/4 beat, the hi-hats on the twos, the looping instrumentation, the arpeggios. However, it feels like house music that has been compressed and blurred until it fits in a small, compact space; it’s the perfection of a form that existed for a nascent moment in time, the epitome of microhouse and a bangin’ good album. Every sample Willner uses is piled on top of the last, layers piled on layers until you can no longer see the bottom; shot through all of that is a tight, thumping bass that pushes more air than the next six house records combined. It’s the very definition of minimalism in EDM, and it’s textured, treated hooks burrow under your skin and stay there for life.
I’m often disappointed but rarely crushingly so. Follakzoid, however, manage to accomplish the task. The Chilean post-Krautrock band’s 2013 album II was a stone highlight of the year, a perfect blend of motorik beats and the kind of songcraft that sounds best as its coming out of the stereo in a car winding it’s way through the mountains with the windows rolled down. It, along with Lower Dens’ Nootropics, half-seriously threatened to bring about a new age of Krautrock in a world that probably didn’t need any more.
III, on the other hand, takes the concept of II and stretches it out too thin, like Bilbo Baggins after wearing the Ring for a decidedly long time. People have been using the word “trance” with regards to III and while it fits, the positive way in which they’re using it baffles me. This is not trance music like the Navajo use in their religious ceremonies. This is trance music that lulls me into a trance because there’s nothing going on. A simplified beat (compared to II at any rate), some spread-out harmonics, and a locked modular groove. Twelve minutes later, we peter out on the exact same thing. There’s little change, and there aren’t even subtle dynamic shifts. There’s four tracks that do the same thing, three of which are in and around the twelve minute mark, and by the end of it you’ll see God in all His glory.
Just kidding! I’ve never made it to the end, because it’s the same goddamn thing over and over again! Maybe it sounds better on heavy psychedelics – but I didn’t need that for II. It’s odd, I’m rarely disappointed with Sacred Bones releases, and yet here we are.