From Here We Go Sublime

by: The Field

An atypical album release by Kompakt, From Here We Go Sublime, the debut full-length release by the Field, is nevertheless stunning, its less-is-more aesthetic striking because of its elegance as well as ease. For this reason alone, it's no wonder the German label, traditionally known for minimal techno, chose to release this album by Swedish producer Axel Willner, whose style -- with its steady sense of propulsion, rhythmic invariance, and embrace of melody -- is less techno than it is trance. Rest assured, though, that this isn't trance as you know it -- euphoric fodder for superclubs this is not. Willner seems to draw primary influence from Wolfgang Voigt, whose productions as All and Gas are touchstones of contemporary ambient techno, especially the style championed by Kompakt on its annual Pop Ambient series of compilations (some of which, the earlier volumes in particular, include Voigt productions). The cut-up glitch style perfected by Akufen is another point of comparison for the Field, whose tracks often employ sampled snippets that are resequenced melodically (for instance, "A Paw in My Face" borrows millisecond snippets of Lionel Richie's schmaltzy ballad "Hello" to delightful effect). A few songs into From Here We Go Sublime, the Field formula becomes fairly clear: the evocative ambience of Gas/All and the cut-up glitch style of Akufen, plus the propulsion, invariance, and melody of trance -- the sum of these parts then presented with the minimal elegance that is the trademark of Kompakt. The ease of the music is a major reason why it's so striking, for it seems as if anyone with the right software and the know-how could make music like this. Just follow the formula, right? Perhaps. Until others begin doing so, though, especially with such elegance -- and in the wake of From Here We Go Sublime's exceptionally broad appeal, you can bet many will try -- the Field stands more or less stylistically alone in the crowded field of electronic dance music. The catch is, this music is stunning in large part because of its novelty; as soon as it begins to be aped by other producers (as always happens), or as soon as you yourself tire of From Here We Go Sublime (not unreasonable, for it is awfully formulaic), it loses some of the charm that is most evident upon initial listen. ~ Jason Birchmeier

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