Folktronica may be a decreasing species these days, but Duelling Ants helps to resurrect its population with the endearing tape in field. Like the previous album, Here’s a Little Forest, the new set reflects a hunting and gathering mission in which sounds are captured instead of food. The cover collage is an apt reflection of this practice: careful collection of sonic detritus and the rearrangement of sources. The tape becomes the canvas upon which the field recordings, small samples and sonic scraps are laid. Music boxes, flowing streams and synthetic swooshes all find their spots, chattering excitedly to one another. At times a beat holds the samples together like glue so they don’t wander too far afield; in other segments, tempo is the unifying factor.
Birds sing in “Yellow,” which has no relation to the Coldplay song of the same name; or more properly, birds sing, their voices are recorded, and then they are looped like a canary-colored toy. Each track is a miniature exploration of mood, from the natural to the electronic; “Rocky and Dan and Jonathan and Zack” is a playful romp replete with video game beeps. The set arose from a workshop, and these were some of the participants. Children babble in the background of “Countryside Again,” cementing the association with innocence.
in field is an album of texture rather than melody. The tracks flow together as a single work, in which no particular piece juts out, but a singular feeling is produced. The album opens and closes with the two part “Daydreaming,” and one can’t help but think of the music as an invitation. All too often, when left alone, the mind drifts to worries, anxieties, complaints and fears. Duelling Ants proposes instead that it might shift to appreciations of nature, tone, and collaboration. The music is unrelentingly positive without being cloying, a difficult trick to master. While listening, it is virtually impossible to be melancholic. While in field may not produce any hit singles, it might inject a note of sonic serotonin to listeners who enjoy scrapbooking, daydreaming and free play. (Richard Allen)