The Field, the nom de plume of abstruse Stockholm-born; Berlin-bred ambientalist Axel Willner, has rather apparently spent some while toying with the notion of ATP curation of late. For following on from the comparatively sedate Looping State Of Mind of 2011, fourth full-length Cupid’s Head sees much of the weird and largely wondrous sounds that have become synonymous with the holiday camp shebangs whirr around within.
20 Seconds Of Affection, a gradual unravelling of a blossoming euphoria that’s slow and composed as a shift in season, couldn’t recall Fuck Buttons’ Tarot Sport more evocatively were it thumped out from Butlins at a decibel level audible across the water in Rhoose; A Guided Tour takes us on a labyrinthian meander through the mellow glitch and neat meshes of muffled beat renowned of BRAIDS, Blanck Mass, Fennesz and so on, all of whom could once have been heard reverberating out from some makeshift space somewhere or other eccentric; whilst Black Sea, splayed out expressively across well over eleven thoroughly ecstatic, if still somehow compact minutes, is the sound of Willner at his electronically demonstrative best. Built about a chirpy pivot that continues to ring out long into the song, it gathers much gusto as it expands like a gut to have gorged on umpteen local ales of a December weekend, motorik rhythms meeting with mechanical instrumentation and an ever deepening metre, before we’re unexpectedly dunked in an ominous throb replete with distressingly coital samples. The sort to so effortlessly penetrate Pontins’ heinously wafer-like walls, essentially. It is, akin to the bit at which you fall out the bottom of the Space Bowl flume, or the acute minute at which you surrender your every recollection to the night, a turn for the unmistakably discombobulating, and one which exhibits quite explicitly both All Tomorrow’s Parties’ and with it Willner’s nonpareil ability to shock and stupefy in flattened seconds.
And never has this been better expressed than throughout the frontal lobes of Cupid’s Head, for at its vanguard lie some of Willner’s most impressive moments to date. Aptly heady opener They Won’t See Me sees Willner turn in arguably his most ruinous four-on-the-floor phase thus far, whilst its title track – a beautifully composed and consummately executed glittery twitch – sees its author dextrously stitch together a focally intimate simplicity with a compellingly intricate backdrop to contrive a sprawling masterpiece that’s as cerebrally arousing as it is corporeally absorbing. Rarely is something this rhythmic quite so capable of inspiring meditation and movement alike with such commensurate ease.
No. No… meanwhile sees Willner disappear deeper into rather macabre aural territory, stammering vocal samples addled with static layered nervily over stuttering, if still propulsive background spasming reminiscent of the whirling of recalcitrant helicopter propellers. The ATP affiliation begins to slip from the forefront of the mind however, immersion approaching totality, and gone is the incompatible context of a mid-afternoon, mildly ambivalent Alexandra Palace. For what with this exhaustive piece having been recorded for posterity’s sake, circumstance is wholly controllable. And fortunately for Axel, it already feels fully transposable, too: free from the temporal confines in which much contemporary electronica finds itself caged, and as well suited to midday as it is midnight, Cupid’s Head is a work that will likely continue to revel in its very own excellence long after ATP conclude their End Of An Era celebrations this coming wintertime.
Released: September 30th, 2013 [Kompakt]