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It’s been seven years since Axel Willner released “From Here We Go Sublime” his debut album as The Field and with each new album he has incrementally evolved his sound. “Cupid’s Head” sees him changing his sound the most so far, exploring a darker and moodier side that is in stark contrast to most of his previous work as The Field, though it shares some similarities with his Loops of the Heart project. In fact, the album the seems to taking its cues from his debut’s centrepiece ‘The Deal’ “an intimidating monolith of techno that swells and pulsates over its 10-minute running time.”

The album opens with ‘They Won’t See Me’ where a synth sound echoes out before the main beat and stuttering chopped up synth lead come striaght in swiftly followed by a slow moving analogue synth melody. Two and a half minutes the hi-hats double in intensity, there’s no sign of a snare or clap. Three minutes and thirty seconds in a new resonate fuzzy synth melody comes arching over the mix and bring with it another chopped elements that sounds like a vocal loop. While the track glistens on the surface, there’s darkness lurking below. Next up is ‘Black Sea’ which begins with a vocal sample that bounces through a delay over the top of a thin drum machine rhythm and chopped up sound bed. Around forty five seconds in a filter sweep synth subtly enters the mix. one minute thirty seconds in the sound bed of chopped audio shifts in rhythm and the track gains renewed purpose. Again three minutes in there’s a shift a it renews the track momentum, the synths sounded wetter now, coated in delay and with a thicker layered beat underneath. The layered synths start to fade out around seven minutes in giving way to a pulsing synth bass line and techno beat. Shuffling hats drop in eight minutes and fourty five seconds in and the bass line turns more acid techno, breathy vocal sample bounce around the stereo mix. All ready its clear that this The Field’s densest and darkest work to date and despite the shifting sound beds and techno beats it also feels like his least club friendly, this isn’t a criticism of the music, Wilner’s music has always worked in home as well as the club but this time it might just work in the home.

The title track opens with another vocal sample, this time covered in heavy huge reverb. It’s swiftly followed a shuffling hi-hat pattern and thumping techno bass drum. The intensity of the hi-hats doubles one minute in pushing the track forward. There’s a break down around two minutes thirty seconds that leaves the vocal alone apart from an analogue synth bass line, there’s a real impact when everything drops back about thirty seconds later. There’s a static, subtle synth melody underpinning this section. The bass becomes more dominate and overbearing as the track continues towards its climax. It’s a great example of Willner’s skillful use of dynamics and also that his every element of his music can stand of it’s own as well as with the other elements of a track. ‘A Guided Tour’ combines a slow moving melody and synth bass arpeggio bubble up that fade in slowly before being joined by a deep, pulsing bass drum and simple hi-hat pattern. The hi-hat pattern changes after a few bars and is swiftly joined by a new more resonant filtered synth arpeggio. A great rolling bass line/drone comes in around five minutes in, along with a deep, repeatitive vocal sample.

‘No. No…’ starts off with a flapping bass drone and distorted and reverberate female vocal singing ‘no, no,no, no, no…’ a bass line is just audible below the noise drone. New synths slip in subtle around three minutes in and the bring a spiky heavily phased hi-hat pattern kicks in and a slow moving melody emerges. The album finishes with  the epic ’20 Seconds of Affection’ which kicks off with a noise synth and distant glistening synth arpeggio,  before a bass drum emerges from the murk pushes the track forward. A cool subtle synth bass pulse comes in around four minutes in.

With ‘Cupid’s Head” Willner has shown why he’s consider one of the finest techno artists of his generation, yet again he’s provided an album full of detail and heart, all underpinned with analogue sound and techno pulse. The quality level on his releases never drops and “Cupid’s Head” is no different, though this time he’s demonstrated that he can dramatically change the mood of his work without losing what makes it great in the first place. “Cupid’s Head” is highly recommended to techno and electronica fans who what some dark and deeper and those that love dark, dense electronic soundtrack by the likes of John Carpenter, Cliff Martinez and Wendy Carlos.

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