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The Field - Infinite Moment Music Album Reviews

The Swedish producer takes the long view on his fifth album full of drifting compositions that knit together twin feelings of melancholy and hope.

Axel Willner’s sixth album as the Field approaches slowly, like a car on a highway shredded by heat haze. Two chords oscillate; a humid bass tone rumbles a human voice, or maybe a synthesizer trained to sound like one. The voice is a scream trapped in amber, agitated but distant, a reaction far removed from its spark. Though voices dart in and out of much of the ambient techno Willner makes, this one is different from his usual samples, which tend to hold more structure—a discernible consonant, a fossil of breath. This voice sounds human and not human, fevered and at peace, calling for something just out of reach.

Infinite Moment basks in motion that feels like stillness. It repeats itself, like Field albums do, but here Willner keeps his melodic arrangements simple. Often he oscillates between just two or three notes, expanding the space between them until it feels big enough to slip inside. Unlike 2016’s The Follower and 2013’s Cupid’s Head, which wove together slippery, dexterous figures, Infinite Moment maintains a plane of focus broad enough to reach the horizon.

These hypnagogic compositions tend to bury the reflex to keep time. Willner’s no stranger to longer compositions—many of his songs breach ten minutes—but Infinite Moment doesn’t ask the listener to take stock of each measure or unpack its composite parts. It doesn’t pull the body into a pulse like dance music does; it washes over the body, surrounding it, lulling it into a closed environment. It’s hard to find the motivation to count seconds. A track like “Something Left, Something Right, Something Wrong” could be three minutes or 30 if you’re hearing it without a clock in sight. It’s propelled by a simple beat, but Willner destabilizes the bass drum with a shuffle of clipped synthesizers whose edges add polyrhythms. There’s one kind of time, the downbeat, and then just beyond it there’s another, blurrier time shifting in and out of focus.

The vocals on “Hear Your Voice” enter the fray so slowly it feels like they’ve sneaked up on you, and the song’s synthesizer elements just peel away until the track has thinned out. “Made of Steel. Made of Stone” starts with vocals, and uses the silence between their distorted cries to set a tempo before a muted click track kicks in. Throughout Infinite Moment, Willner revels in these subtle transitions. A synth line is perceptible only once it’s obvious that it’s been playing for a while already. Even the most structured, percussive song, “Divide Now,” washes its beats over with insistent ghostly noise. No hard edges present themselves on the album. Even the snare drums sound bleary.

Infinite Moment’s loose relationship with time and synchronicity follows a year full of albums with a similar drift. Recent experimental works like Yves Tumor’s Safe in the Hands of Love and Low’s Double Negative let song structures surface like ancient ruins: decayed, elliptical, present but halfway lodged in another time. Willner’s latest also evinces a sense of loss, but he’s just as interested in growing new forms in the holes he’s punched in his music. Moss covers his ruins and he recognizes it as life—not a scar on a decrepit form, but a new expression of being, another way for the earth to roll through time. The warmth of Infinite Moment radiates from its symbiotic growth of melancholy and hope. Willner doesn’t privilege one over the other, but allows them to knit together, watching from a distance to see the shapes they might take.

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