In 2007, Swedish producer Axel Willner, under his moniker The Field, produced one of the finest records of the past decade, From Here We Go Sublime. Through some electronic music alchemy Willner looped, stretched and melded samples, pushing them through a series of analogue cables emerging as lush electronic waves over minimal deep house beats creating an album that is as insular as it is crowd-pleasing; an album of entrancing cyclical ambient melodies. Somewhere along the way crowd-pleasing became important, somehow Willner must have thought that his knob-twiddling, guileless though it was, just wasn’t enough so he introduced some live instrumentation (bass, guitar and percussion) to his shows.
And thusly we have The Field, as presented to us in Dublin’s Tripod, and immediately something isn’t right. OK, these same live instruments were successfully mixed into second album Today and Tomorrow but they were treated like any other sample or sound, layered under a sea of swirling waves and rushes. The idea that these sounds are brought to the fore sets everything off balance, and that’s exactly what happened. An interesting sight to begin with, it proved difficult not to focus on the bass, making subtle build ups, or the cracking drums, snares and cymbals but by focusing on these means you don’t get absorbed into the melodies as you would do with the record.
There were some moments, the pulsating, throbbing rhythms of -The Heart Beats So Fast’ entranced the crowd for a while and the recognition of the Lionel Richie sampling, -A Paw In The Face’ caused some audible excitement on the floor; however on the peripheries it was all very incidental.
This was not a particularly poor show, the front few rows certainly didn’t think so, it was just slightly under-whelming and unmemorable. Also, the fact that The Field didn’t take to the stage until 2am meant that for many interest had waned, while many others were, well, pie-eyed.
The Field are/is better suited to a smaller venue, somewhere darker or more intimate; more importantly The Field should have a smaller stage presence, i.e. one man, Alex WIllner.