The Field’s _From Here We Go Sublime_ seems mistitled, because sublime is already here. I had to admit, on the first listen of this album, I wasn’t taken with it. After being so heavily hyped, I had expected something more mind-blowing. But on the second listening, that’s when the mind-blowing occurred. Loop-based music is incredibly easy to make, but is incredibly difficult to do well. But Axel Willner, the man behind The Field, has hit on a stunningly gorgeous method: his stuttering loops create almost a trance-like feel to the track such that the variations, when they come, pound into your consciousness, recreating the track anew. So even as a track like "Silent" seems straightforward when it begins, it has morphed into something unrecognizable by its midway point. Even the opening track, "Over the Ice," has its recurring vocal textures, right before things suddenly go acid. But Willner also has some surprises: when the guitar loop of "A Paw in My Face" finally resolves at the end, we can hear the complete transformation of the source material into the blissful hiccups. The same goes with the ambient title track and its slow deconstruction of Motown. "Good Things End" gallops along with thick percussion, like a pack of wild horses across a boreal tundra, and "The Deal" takes a similar aggressive stance before thundering itself into a spacious territory. "The Little Heart Beats So Fast" takes a little expression of pleasure and acidifies it into a full-fledged groover, while the brightness of "Everyday" swings into something new with the introduction of the vocals before it returns to the opening motif. The standout track, “Sun & Ice,” has such a richness of sound that it seems to glow in the consciousness, even as it suddenly decays and resumes. _From Here We Go Sublime_ offers so many pleasures that one can return to it again and again, each time discovering new things.
Slapping the terms like "trance", "minimal", and "techno", may quickly dismiss this album's true essence. But these labels shine some truth on what the music has to offer. The album undeniably employs 4/4 rhythm, which, I suppose, classifies it as techno; its minuscule musical progression begs for the minimal adjective; and its repetitive and hypnotic structure, no doubt puts people into trance. But that's just on the surface. Beyond the deeper layers, Axel Willner, who goes by the name The Field, employs tiny sampled, hiccuped, locked loops, that create the music all on their own, as if the needle was stuck in skipping groove. Yet, From Here We Go Sublime is not a banging stomp of grinding beats that you may imagine it to be. In fact, it is relaxing and surreal; it is a child of ambient and techno; it is sublime. Landing the album on Kompakt Records couldn't be more appropriate for Willner. The German label has released numerous minimal gems in the past years, from Thomas Fehlmann, Gui Boratto, Klimek and Richard Voigt. And who could deny Kaito's skillfully approach to simplicity in his Hundred Million Light Years. The reviews you may find on The Field are mixed. It may seem that skill is underplayed, when loops go on forever with barely any manipulation, as if an amateur discovered the fun in Ableton's sample locking, layering and filters. But it is that minimal progression, the buildup without the dynamics, the riding trip into narcotic fractal, that works well for Willner, time and time again. My favorite track is A Paw In My Face, because at the end it becomes "unstuck" and my brain unplugs as if the switch flips off in my electric chair.
Perhaps if Kaito's "Special Life"/"Special Love" had been put off by a few years, the reviewers would be praising that in the same way they have praised "From Here We Go Sublime". Both of these works find similarity in containing elements derived from what is traditionally referred to as trance; however, while Kaito employs the truly sublime, ethereal aspect of trance coupled with crisp, clean production, The Field typically employs blippy, cheesy, and obviously dated production techniques. The worst aspect of The Field's production is the use of heavily tremoloed samples from mostly late 80s shoegazer type acts, and unfortunately, this seems to be the hallmark of a track by The Field. This worked quite well on "Kappsta", but throughout "From Here We Go Sublime", it just gets a little tired and frustrating. Perhaps if the blippier elements were given a backseat to the more smooth, truly sublime and ethereal elements, this could have worked better. That is to say, if this album was retooled as an ambient album, it may ultimately prove more listenable all the way through than its current form. One can't help but wonder if such a volume is in the works - after all, it's happened at least twice before.
People could say it is too simple, but it's emocional and so deep, and that's what i look for music. Some of these songs are for de club, but i think they are better for the room listening, where you will feel relaxed and sometimes melancholic.
The best ones for me are "A Paw in your Face" that is so emotional, and "Everyday" that is so atmospherical. I think that music like this is necessary; a bit trancey, minimalistic techno? It doesn't mind, it's nice.
Well here it is, Kompakt’s bastion of hope that will bring them out of their own clique of a label with the faux-mysterious The Field, who has just enough air of mystique that people who think unintentional anonymous behavior actually effects their enjoyment of the music. Not only this, but The Field is a fine example of Kompakt’s residual effect on the trendy minimal techno scene, perpetuated by the likes of aging hipsters, ceaseless Mp3 bloggers, and ‘I will love music forever and ever’ type people who post on message boards that attract the 1-2 punch of people who ‘like independent music, but absolutely adore mainstream pop’, no matter how bad it is. The Field, like a lot of uninteresting and ignorable music from Kompakt, tries to extract the sensibilities of pop music into it’s own vision, falling into the hazy ambient territory of microhouse and minimal techno that Kompakt championed and eventually beat into the ground repeatedly. And while this CD is more on point than countless other Kompakt releases, this album is hardly worth the time or praise that many people are giving it.
The Field opts to make songs that are produced so lazily, you have to wonder why people are willfully ignoring how shoddy it’s construction is. Yet here these people are, defending it with the same ideas and concepts verbatim that seem to make my point of view moot, as if I’m ‘missing the point of this music.’ There seems to be a growing insurgence of people who like to separate facets of a recording to discern the most valuable parts. This is admirable, but in reality it’s a total slap in the face to recording artists who can and have put their soul into supposed ‘technical flare’ of recordings, just to be passed off as ‘too technical’ by people who seriously think that the content of the tracks and the production technique should be separated, if necessary. When technique is recorded and infused into the you're making, is there any need to separate it from the now invisible ‘other’ content, since technique becomes part of the content itself? Do people just like ignoring this complete and utter fact about audio recording for some sort of ambivalent greater good? It’s like praising the culinary expertise of putting a 2 week old rotting festering pig on your dinner table, because the chef put an ounce of the richest chocolate inside.
Some ideas presented in this CD are good ideas to be certain. The Little Heart Beats So Fast in particular starts off strong, with no glaringly obvious bad marks to it. But what starts off as a strong track tends to just meander around. The rest is an annoying mixed bag of terrible ‘loop locking’ work for every single song on the entire CD. People certainly have the right to enjoy this record, and if I could get past all the instantly obvious problems I’m sure I would too. But any amount of good I hear is marred by bad execution of fairly decent ideas. Don’t tell me I haven’t ‘gotten it’, because I get this album completely. I understand exactly what it’s trying to achieve. And it isn’t done well, not by a long shot.
It took me a while to get into 'From Here We Go Sublime'. But as with so many other truly great releases this album revealed itself not after its first listening.
I thought it was too trancey. I thought I heard more or less the same album last year, when Kaito released on Kompakt 'Hundred Million Light Years'.
Boy was I wrong.
The Field is way more than that. Tracks like 'Over The Ice' or 'Everyday' bring back memories of early nineties techno like Laurent Garnier's 'Whake up', while 'God Things End' is ambient techno at its best. That means that 'From Here We Go Sublime' is 'trance' music in its true form: it brings you in another state of mind. After Gui Boratto's 'Chromophobia' again a brilliant Kompakt-release in 2007.