Berlin-based Swedish musician Axel Willner has said his fourth album “Cupid’s Head” (out now on Kompakt) was so difficult to produce given his headspace at the time, that he was prompted to rip a page from conceptual artist John Baldessari’s bonfire-as-catharsis book, and go analog, leaving his digital gear out of the recording process. It also inspired him to dive into a couple of rock-oriented side projects, and visually his frustrations manifested in a change to the style of his cover art. Where it had previously been cool beige, it is now deep black, its formerly contrasting simple script almost indiscernible in the darkness. While Willner’s signature may be difficult to see, it’s still easily heard.
As with his previous albums (2007’s breakthrough From Here We Go Sublime, 2009’s Yesterday and Today, 2011’s Looping State of Mind), Axel’s fusion of loops, subsonic bass, and symphonic flourishes unfolds like a meticulously calibrated score to the best “ravers in love” movie that was never made. If The Field’s music were a horizon, its colors would extend forever; if it were an ocean, its floor would seem unreachable; if it were air, its breezes would raise irrepressible goosebumps; if it were a lover, well, let’s just say it would shudder like a million tiny deaths, as the French diplomatically refer to it. Where The Field’s sound was previously glimmering and ethereal, it is now darker and earthier, its pulses feel more visceral than heady.
Releasing an album that resonates with rave culture’s MDMA aura is a bit of a gamble and The Field’s music has often been described in such terms. What The Field does beautifully, however, is remind us that we don’t need “Molly” to go tripping among the stars because they’re already dancing in our heads; we just need to close our eyes and embrace the dark. We thought it was impossible for The Field’s music to feel any more intense. We are ecstatic to be proven wrong. Stream The Field’s resplendent “Cupid’s Head” in all its glory after the jump.
01. They Won’t See Me
02. Black Sea
03. Cupid’s Head
04. A Guided Tour
05. No. No…
06. 20 Seconds Of Affection