Some of Cherwell’s more pop-centric readers may well have heard indie-lite posterboy du jour Ed Sheeran imploring us, on his latest single, to ‘watch how I step on the track without a loop pedal.’ Thank your stars he didn’t. The Field, alias Axel Willner, on the other hand, has been releasing loop-based, critically-acclaimed techno music since 2007, and Looping State of Mind, his third album, may well be his best effort yet.
Where much of his earlier work centred around samples of artists as diverse as Kate Bush and Lionel Richie, this album is very much his. The minimal techno feel of his debut has been fleshed out, and his music benefits here from a softer, neater sound,
What is so striking is Willner’s versatility of styles. Still wearing his soul influences on his sleeve, he has managed subtly and successfully to inject elements of funk into proceedings, without it being crass; second track ‘It’s Up There’ moves from euphoric trance to sounding like a more cerebral LCD Soundsystem, thanks to a choppy bassline which wouldn’t sound out of place on an Earth, Wind and Fire track, and the album’s standout track, ‘Burned Out’, is a fantastically bugged out, drugged up, seven minute long headrush; a delicate stampede of drum beats, synths, and haunting, sparse vocals.
That said, Looping State of Mind certainly isn’t for everyone; while arguably more accessible than his previous albums, its reliance on the repetition of basic techno tenets may seem grating, and the stuttered rhythms of closing track ‘Sweet Slow Baby’ can be a little hard to swallow. Moreover, clocking in at over an hour, and with only seven tracks, it’s certainly no dip-in, dip-out experience, but there’s no doubt that Willner has created a powerful and immersive album that begs to be heard.