The Field, Looping State of Mind

Michaelangelo Matos

By Michaelangelo Matos

on 09.12.11 in Reviews

Loops are like riffs — some have it, some don’t. The artists that create the best loops — Armand Van Helden in his late-’90s prime is the best example — find and/or chop up something kinetic. The Field’s Axel Willner is different because he’s going for something more meditative, even as his hard four-to-the-floor beat moves bodies. His music undulates and comes at the listener in waves, a distension that creates a sense of longing. They’re bite-sized and broad-canvas at the same time: you want to know how the loop ends, damn it. Especially if you’re already hooked on Willner’s way with squeezing a well-known piece of music, be it the Flamingos’ (and doo-wop’s) masterpiece, “I Only Have Eyes for You” or Lionel Richie’s “Hello” (from “From Here We Go Sublime” and “A Paw in My Face,” respectively, both from 2007′s From Here We Go Sublime), until it seems alien and all the more beguiling.

The Field’s funkiest album, while still remaining lush and widescreen

Title to the semi-contrary, Looping State of Mind is more composed than either Sublime or its undersung follow-up, Yesterday and Today. Here, Willner’s sound is both harder and sleeker. But even if gauziness is part of what you go to its predecessors for, Looping‘s sharper focus actually makes it more immersive, not less: These are structures to get lost inside. It’s easily the Field’s funkiest album, while still remaining lush and widescreen. “Is This Power” kicks if off like a homespun variation on epic trance — a Field touchstone since his first single, “Love vs. Distance,” in 2005 — before cutting down to strutting post-punk bass, then returning to normal, only funkier. The same basic formula (including bass break) applies to soothing monsters like “Arpeggiated Love” and “It’s Up There,” where dozens of details emerge at the music’s edges, but the big picture is most important of all.