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The Field - Looping State of Mind


Think of ‘The Field’ and what comes to mind? If ethereal loops, droning samples & washes of synthesisers is your answer then this new long player won’t drastically alter that viewpoint. Returning with a third album on Kompakt, Axel Willner takes on Don LaFontaine-esque levels of familiarity with his signature sound although not without a certain degree of evolution. Having experimented with a drummer on ‘Yesterday and Today’ and expanded his live set up into a three piece band, Willner has given more space to live instrumentation on the album to give a more organic feel in comparison to the icy synthesis of his earlier work.

Beginning with ‘Is This Power’, this organic aspect quickly becomes apparent with a krautrock rhythm and bassline over the top of Willner’s trademark reverb-drenched loops. It’s a confident start that is followed up by a cut, ‘It’s Up There’, that sounds like it’s been lifted wholesale from ‘From Here We Go Sublime’. This is a view that could be applied to several tracks here although the languid ‘Burned Out’ branches out by introducing vocals into the mix albeit in distorted snatches interspersed with a melancholic slide guitar line. ‘Then It’s White’ is centred around a morose, repeating piano line that keeps monotony at bay through the shifting of the raw surrounding instrumentation. Closer ‘Sweet Slow Baby’ takes a discordant loop and layers it with swashes of echoing sounds, vocals and backward samples, creating a dense soundscape that subtly warps and alters as it reaches a close.

‘Looping State of Mind’ shows some obvious incremental evolution of The Field’s sound through greater use of organic instrumentation and also through the textural use of phonics & loops. However, this progression is undermined somewhat by some atavistic returns to the stylistic characteristics of ‘From Here We Go Sublime’ that induced such fawning over by the more sycophantic section of the blogging world. To those uninitiated with Willner, this album is a highly recommended listen especially in comparison to the slightly underwhelming ‘Yesterday an Today’. To the listener familiar with The Field, ‘Looping State of Mind’ will either nag you with deja vu (deja entendu?) or provide you with the warm & reassuring feeling one gets from routine. Overall, it’s a solid album that titillates the listener with some progression although perhaps not enough for some people.

Paul Fanning 


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