The Field


Axel Willner, AKA The Field, is an absolute dude. He’s probably the coolest person in Manchester at this very moment, despite the high hipster quotient currently in Yes waiting for him to come on and do his ambient, minimal techno thing. You see, Willner is Swedish, which immediately makes him cool, but now he is based in Berlin, which adds another few points to his tally; he makes minimal techno which is also pretty cool, and he’s wearing a woolly hat indoors, which we all know is peak hipster clothing behaviour. So, yeah, he’s pretty damn cool, thank you very much.

Over 6 studio albums, Willner has refined his particular strain of techno down to a T. From 2009’s stunning From Here We Go Sublime (what an album title!) to this year’s brilliant Infinite Moment, he’s pushed the boundaries of what repetition and tiny tweaks can do to a track, drawing out moments of looped beauty to the nth degree, whilst each time managing to add something new to the mix. He’s here tonight in support of Infinite Moment, another well received masterclass in looping inventiveness, and the aforementioned well turned out hipster crowd seem pretty excited judging by the welcome that greets him as he gets behind his minimal decks & electronic knobs stage set up.

He starts off, as expected, pretty slowly, with ‘Made of Steel. Made of Stone’, the opener to his new LP, a near 12 minute gentle intro that loops a beautiful synth line over and over, but little else, and if I’m honest, with nothing much to focus on other than Willner himself, I find my mind drifting into something akin to boredom…it’s odd as I love the track, but live it’s just not doing much for me, despite the obvious skill in its creation and the shimmering gorgeousness of it. The next track is similarly ponderous, not really going anywhere fast, and I become slightly worried by this slow intro, finding myself wondering if I only really enjoy The Field’s music if I’m also doing something else – working, running, reading.

But by track three (a good 25 mins into the set), all my fears are assuaged as he palpably shifts up a gear and gets into the meat of his set with the Infinite Moment one-two of ‘Divide Now’ and ‘Who Goes There’, both of which mesmerisingly build and build around single loops until they reach something approaching transcendent, my body apparently moving of its own accord as my mind is focused entirely on the entrancing beats and psychedelic visuals now projected behind him.

If at all possible, he kicks on again to produce two massive tracks to end the set, the bass now rumbling through the room, spotlights whirring around the crowd, heads and bodies bopping all over the place as people start to lose their collective shit to the extraordinary sounds being created in front of us; it’s a pretty special end to a, in hindsight, perfectly paced techno set put together by the coolest architect of minimal beatmaking around.

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