Axel Willner, also known as the Field, is a hypnotist. It’s impossible to listen to his brand of minimal ambient techno music and not get hopelessly lost in the stars. For 11 years now, Willner has been steadily dishing out highly acclaimed releases under this moniker on the Kompakt label, an ideal fit for him, the label, and deep listeners who are in the pursuit of something new. Infinite Moment is his latest, and the magic that found inside of 2007’s From Here We Go Sublime hasn’t dimmed in the slightest. If you care to split hairs, you could make the case that things have become even more hazy and mysterious, thereby better. But you don’t need to delve that far into any analysis to get the most out of Infinite Moment. All you need is your ears and an attention span willing to let six songs sprawl over an hour and five minutes worth of heavenly synthesizers weaving awe-inspiring textures over propulsive, gentle beats.
Despite its name, opener “Made of Steel. Made of Stone” has a very soft, hazy nature to it where musical traits like melody and key signature are just vague suggestions telegraphed in from a far-off dimension. The pulsing figures slowly build for close to nine minutes, only to be taken over by an ambient miasma that would embarrass Brian Eno. For “Divide Now”, the mood becomes much more dance-oriented with the syncopated beats and heavily-compressed synth pad driving the whole thing. “Hear Your Voice”, the album’s longest track at 12:28, settles for a 6/8 gallop as delayed chords come in from varying angles. “Divide Now” and “Hear Your Voice” show that, even when he kicks the tempo up a notch or two, Axel Willner will continue to shroud the music in mystery.
The first two selections on Infinite Moment‘s second half, “Something Left, Something Right, Something Wrong” and “Who Goes There”, steer things back to nebulous ambient territory. The former is possibly the most minimal beauty found on the album. The latter, the shortest track clocking in at 8:52, plays up the creep factor with a heavily doctored sample. By its halfway point, a light club beat inserts itself into the previously established pulse, changing the mood ever so slightly. The title track, placed last, is another combination of minimal musical activity, pulsing frequencies, and tapping beats.
Through all six tracks, regardless of their rhythmic backing, harmonic and melodic complexity, or lack thereof, Axel Willner has managed to keep your eyes locked on the dangling watch before you. The sheer repetition lures you in, but it’s the quality of what’s happening in these dense mixes that makes you stay, that allows you see the forest for the tree.
In other words, the Field has done it yet again.