Music

The Field: Cupid's Head

Axel Willner takes us down the rabbit hole of his looping, glitching, twisting mind...


The Field

Cupid's Head

Label: Kompakt
US Release Date: 2013-10-01
UK Release Date: 2013-09-30
Amazon
iTunes

For the past six years, whenever a new record by Axel Willner hits the streets, I usually approach it in the most reserved and skeptic way. "Oh, here we go again," I'm thinking, "an hour of the same repeating loops. Why would these loops be any better this time, and why is it the Field that does it best?" But as I place my trust into the hands of Kompakt, the doubting cynic slowly starts to fade away. For yet another round of circling music, it is somehow unique, hypnotic and sublime. And as each track approaches its five-minute luring center, I know that Cupid's Head will stay in queue on long repeat.

Ever since Willner's debut on Kompakt in 2007, titled From Here We Go Sublime, the scene's dissenters often wondered, how long this beat can go and why. On the surface of each record, a repetitive phrasing of a four-second bar would leisurely evolve with minute changes, tiny shifts and microscopic blends. But somehow, throughout the years of slow and minim variations, with Looping State of Mind (2011) and Yesterday and Today (2009), it is the Field that keeps this heartbeat rolling on and on. Perhaps Willner has discovered a basic secret in which the rhythm becomes a mesmerizing daydream, spreading its pulsating fingers across your mind in soporific waves. Perhaps the elements he adds to trance-inducing patterns are not as simple as they first appear to be. Perhaps with Cupid's Head he has perfected soothing soundscapes, which gently cover cadence with their dazed narcotic warmth. All this and more, is a testament to Willner's success with misconstrued restraint behind his music. No doubt that Kompakt has correctly seen this from the start.

On his fourth full length release, the Berlin-based Swede slightly shifts a bit into slightly darker territory -- a welcome move for those indifferent to joy. This aesthetic is mostly prevalent in "Black Sea" where after seven minutes of major-chord glitching strings, swirling pads and near-disco beat, the track abruptly shifts into a dire district, in which the synth arpeggios advance to psychedelic heights. The bass lead is almost 303 in nature, as its frequency and resonance are tweaked in opiate exhaust. On the title track of the album, an undecipherable phrase lays groundwork for rhythm, and this recursive loop holds on to cranium like high electric burn. As per Willner's comments, it's the loop in "No. No..." that laid the groundwork for this release: "an intense piece of concrete poetry dissolving in gorgeous swathes of sound..."

The Field's etheric sound continues to soothe, anesthetize and drown. Like a headcleaner for muddled thoughts and scrambled state of mind, his music somehow launders all that's crumbled, stiff and foul. Emerging from an hour-long traversal of these numb spellbinding edges, I feel like I have just climbed out of a gripping rabbit hole. But with its trip so magnetizing and enchanting, I'll gladly plunge into the loop again, again, again, again, again...

8
Music


Books


Film


Recent
Books

Patrick Madden's 'Disparates' Makes Sense in These Crazy Times

There's no social distancing with Patrick Madden's hilarious Disparates. While reading these essays, you'll feel like he's in the room with you.

Music

Perfume Genius Purges Himself and It's Contagious

You need to care so much about your art to pack this much meaning into not only the words, but the tones that adorn and deliver them. Perfume Genius cares so much it hurts on Set My Heart on Fire Immediately.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

Confinement and Escape: Emma Donoghue and E.L. Doctorow in Our Time of Self-Isolation

Emma Donoghue's Room and E.L. Doctorow's Homer & Langley define and confront life within limited space.

Books

Political Cartoonist Art Young Was an Aficionado of all Things Infernal

Fantagraphics' new edition of Inferno takes Art Young's original Depression-era critique to the Trump Whitehouse -- and then drags it all to Hell.

Love in the Time of Coronavirus

OK Go's Emotional New Ballad, "All Together Now", Inspired by Singer's Bout with COVID-19

Damian Kulash, lead singer for OK Go discusses his recent bout with COVID-19, how it impacted his family, and the band's latest pop delight, "All Together Now", as part of our Love in the Time of Coronavirus series.

Books

The Rules Don't Apply to These Nonconformist Novelists

Ian Haydn Smith's succinct biographies in Cult Writers: 50 Nonconformist Novelists You Need to Know entice even seasoned bibliophiles.

Music

Siren Songs' Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels Debut As a Folk Duo (album stream + interview)

Best friends and longtime musical collaborators Merideth Kaye Clark and Jenn Grinels team up as Siren Songs for the uplifting folk of their eponymous LP.

Music

Buzzcocks' 1993 Comeback 'Trade Test Transmissions' Showed Punk's Great Survivors' Consistency

PopMatters' appraisal of Buzzcocks continues with the band's proper comeback LP, Trade Test Transmissions, now reissued on Cherry Red Records' new box-set, Sell You Everything.

Music

Archie Shepp, Raw Poetic, and Damu the Fudgemunk Enlighten and Enliven with 'Ocean Bridges'

Ocean Bridges is proof that genre crossovers can sound organic, and that the term "crossover" doesn't have to come loaded with gimmicky connotations. Maybe we're headed for a world in which genres are so fluid that the term is dropped altogether from the cultural lexicon.

Books

Claude McKay's 'Romance in Marseille' Is Ahead of Its Time

Claude McKay's Romance in Marseille -- only recently published -- pushes boundaries on sexuality, disability, identity -- all in gorgeous poetic prose.

Music

Christine Ott Brings the Ondes Martenot to New Heights with the Mesmerizing 'Chimères'

France's Christine Ott, known for her work as an orchestral musician and film composer, has created a unique new solo album, Chimères, that spotlights an obscure instrument.

Music

Man Alive! Is a Continued Display of the Grimy-Yet-Refined Magnetism of King Krule

Following The OOZ and its accolades, King Krule crafts a similarly hazy gem with Man Alive! that digs into his distinct aesthetic rather than forges new ground.

Reviews
Collapse Expand Reviews

Features
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 PopMatters.com. All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.