Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Field- Looping State Of Mind

Like many great musicians, The Field is defined by a series of paradoxes that don't need explanation or resolution in order to enjoy his music. While primarily using digital and synthetic sound sources, the music never feels robotic or unnatural. It is technically electronic music made with computers and the like, yet it has a blissed out atmosphere that genuinely owes more to guitar toting dream pop and (the less noisy) shoegazer bands than it does ambient techno or microhouse.

The final paradox is that, if listened to back to back to back, all three of The Field's albums sound very similar yet all have their own sense of flow and movement which makes each unique. From Here We Go Sublime set the standard and established the sound. It was and remains a very special record for me, and is one of the few situations where I deeply love an album but can't bring myself to write about it for fear of defining what the magic is and thus losing it. Anyway, the second album, Yesterday and Today, is more of the same but goes to greater extremes in both rhythm and texture. Looping State Of Mind, meanwhile, partially tips its hat with its title. These are songs which repeat incessantly like loops and certainly help to alter your state of mind, yet they aren't as repetitive as they initially seem and the blissed out/stoned atmosphere is undercut by a more heavily rhythmic and earthy sound than you'll initially notice. The basslines alone on the opening track will testify to that, and make a surprisingly good foil to the dreamy washes of synthesizer which made Sublime so unique. In fact, Looping argues well for turning The Field into a two or three member live unit, with a drummer and bassist to groove along as The Field does his usual magic.

All of that said, Looping State Of Mind isn't the evolutionary next step you might hope for. The Field is still primarily mining the shimmering, minimalist ambient-techno he patented with From Here We Go Sublime. 'It's Up There' could pass for a remix of 'Silent', though I do mean that in the best way possible. Even in those moments where The Field seems to be directly referencing himself, it's always through a gauzy filter or battery of effects and loops to alter the entire dynamic of a track. It helps that even the lengthy daydreams like 'Arpeggiated Love' have heavier beats than From Here We Go Sublime. This keeps your body tethered securely to the Earth even as your mind floats away, a little trick The Field may have picked up from The Orb, who also knew the value of mixing up persistent, deep rhythms with spacey, stoned textures and loops.

The Field already had legendary status based solely on From Here We Go Sublime alone. With Looping State Of Mind, he has inarguably secured this position. Looping doesn't have the sense of newness and special-ness of Sublime and he really needs to try something new with the next one, but sometimes consistency and modest changes are all you really need to have a fruitful career and to produce top tier work.
5 Poorly Drawn Stars Out Of 5

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