Review Summary: The Field realize their full potential and craft their most immediate and memorable album to date
Axel Willner, operating under the ambitious and deliberately ambiguous The Field template, has always blurred the line between the dancefloor and the bedroom, twisting his obscure pop into mangled techno concoctions that were able to operate on completely different levels, wholly separate yet beautifully intertwined none the less. His music is caustic and simple, relying heavily on looped and arpeggiated samples to create a welcoming comfort, a sort of stability if you will. But despite the initially welcoming nuances, his beats are reclusive and cagey, locked away in secret and only intermittently persuasive to the idea of intrusion. Which gave his more tailored Yesterday And Tomorrow
release an air of misappropriation, as the nods to more affluent artists like Gas were ditched in favor of something more forward thinking, less dramatic and more direct.
Looping State Of Mind
(a cheeky and obvious reference to the bedroom nostalgia of his debut) does return to the more couch daydream scenarios of his acclaimed debut, but blended in with the more Kraftwerk highway drives of Yesterday And Tomorrow
. Which remarkably gives the album a level of confidence and sure-footedness that was absent from even From Here We Go Sublime
. His hypnotic melodies take on a much more pivotal role patched in to the now throbbing backbeats, to the point where they actually seem to grow and move on, where they feel restless and nomadic. It’s as if Willner has decided to knock down the walls sheltering his deep psychosis and let the outside in, and with these boundaries no longer in place he lets his imagination, and his music, run free.
As such, Looping State Of Mind
finds The Field more immediate and definable, less head scratching and more luxuriating. The minimal tech and waffling ambient is still on offer, but it’s more cradling and supportive than its more previous role as a dominant and occasionally violent counterpoint. Less sinewy and more fluctuating, Willner looks outside of his immediate sphere and crafts his music to the tune of pioneering house, dexterous and deep. Willner has stated on numerous occasions that he hasn’t paid attention to techno since 2009, and it shows here. And it’s in this change of focus that marks this as perhaps the most potent release yet from Willner and company. And while that might ring out as a declaration against The Field’s earlier output, this shift in priorities has simply afforded the collective a significant amount of breathing room that ultimately works in the group’s favor.
But while that might give off the notion that Looping state Of Mind
is an exercise in experimentation, the results are fully realized and at times, brilliantly achieved. There’s a deep sense of comfortableness here, as if the group were old hands at patching into such varied and prosperous notions. And the diversity is notable as well; when Willner chimes in with a take on balearic disco on the title track, or pours sunshine into the glittering and robust ‘Arpeggiated Love’. But even when he’s at his most immediate he still finds himself latching onto that reclusive nature that’s become intrinsic to his identity; ‘Burned out’ proves this with its beach sunset vibes and drugged out reprieves that just pine to be spun out into oblivion. It shows that Willner is still one of the most diverse producers at work right now, and that Looping State Of Mind
reminds us not just of that fact, but that not much else from this year will come close to touching its decadence.