Lavin Rant: Looping State of Mind


by Mike Lavin


The Field – Looping State of Mind [Kompakt; 2011]

Many think of techno as the loud, thumping music that fills the building with its ridiculous bass and hook-filled synthesizers and other instruments. Few know there is actually a more “artsy” kind of techno, and it isn’t IDM (intelligent dance music), it’s minimal techno. Minimal techno strips down all those raging walls of noise that techno is infamous for and creates spacey, simpler, elaborate techno that is an excuse for anti-techno music fanatics to actually enjoy some beautifully crafted music from Swedish minimal techno mastermind Axel Willner’s, aka The Field, third effort Looping State of Mind.

Looping State of Mind is an ideal title for Willner. The “state of mind” is the loops that Willner near-perfectly crafts through articulate percussive lines that build up and down moving meticulously throughout the seven tracks which clock in for an hour of minimal and ambient techno. The slow-burning goodness of Looping is something that doesn’t come easy; patience and letting the atmosphere and textures sink in is required for a full appreciation of Willner’s orchestrations. Looping isn’t exactly the ideal dance music that techno is coined after. The subtle ways Willner brings his aesthetic to life is uncanny; I see the tracks on Looping as a train rushing by with people jumping on to add onto the personality of the train subtly. Every track starts out with a steady beat that continues throughout the entire tracks, there isn’t any speeding up or slowing down.

Looping music is a curious thing. J Dilla was a master of creating hip-hop instrumentals through simple loops of obscure R&B tunes, but Willner’s loops are unrecognizable and only take a small snippet out of the sample. Opening track “Is This Power” takes a small part of a guitar line and makes it follow the path of a simple techno beat with the occasional instrumentation of a drum and go into a raving journey into a unique soundscape. One of the most enjoyable tunes on Looping is the chugging “Arpeggiated Love,” which builds into a beautiful soaring bell-line that permeates the steady beat. Looping sounds and different elements of music into one aesthetic has never sounded so crisply satisfying.

Even if all the tracks off Looping clock in over seven minutes, they pass by quickly. The minimal appeal Willner puts off is excellent artful music that really changes the image of techno to me. The stereotypical rave music that techno conveys is overshadowed by Willner’s magnificent ability at crafting this wide-open, yet minimalistic music that transcends all of techno’s standards, almost as much as his debut From Here We Go Sublime which was where Willner attempted to find his place and create a daring addition to music, but Looping is in a league of its own where Willner’s maturation comes into place to find his true niche.