Live Review: The Field, Barker, Basic Mind

29 October 2015 | 6:41 pm | Staff Writer

"The cyclic dance of the vintage synth riff and twisted vocal sample had the crowd enraptured."

Swedish techno luminary Axel Willner aka The Field has produced four unique and defining albums since his acclaimed 2007 debut, From Here We Go Sublime, and has continued to evolve, but this was his first appearance in Perth.

Securely the enigmatic Swede for an intimate show was the fine work of Mistletone Records and Camp Doogs, who billed the night as the 'official' after-party for their recent weekend of music and shenanigans in the woods down south.

As a bonus, main support for the night was Berlin's Barker, an Englishman now residing at Berghain and responsible for their seminal Leisure System nights. A great choice to warm things up, after local legend Basic Mind, with a smooth DJ set of deep, percussive techno sounds that occasionally strayed into more melodic house territory. He worked things up with a heavier beat at times, but held back respectfully.

Willner took the stage around 11.15pm, looking very Scandinavian in his beanie, barely lit in the minimal coloured lighting. Getting settled behind his equipment setup to the side, he spent the first five minutes very slowly building an insistent, atmospheric rhythm, with a high-hat flourish tickling the mix.

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The Field’s music is all about subtlety and layers, and it was 15 minutes before he dropped the first proper bass drumbeat, but subsequently never looked back.

Jimmy’s Den had a darker, more clubby, vibe than its usual rockin’ scene tonight - early in his set The Field’s deep vibes, at times, struggled to translate in the open room, with his complex sound lacking the necessary definition, but the sound picked up as he went on, and soon you could feel the beat and throb of the rhythm pulsing through you.

Another aspect that made Willner’s show unique and all the more impressive was that he was playing live, using only hardware, with no laptop to be seen. Instead the electronic musician utilised a selection of synthesisers, samplers and drum machines to create his layered, atmospheric tunes on the fly.

Taking us on a journey through The Field tracks old and new, Willner skilfully blended his songs together. While the transitions were maybe too slow for some, his music has a proper, raw, old-school vibe - dramatic major chords, synth stabs, repetitive patterns that ebb and flow.

Just after midnight he really picked up the pace and volume, dropping his huge track, Everyday, which really raised the level in the room a notch with its heavier, trancey sounds.  Then he brought things home in a big way with an epic live rendition of Over The Ice, taking it back to where it all started with the classic opening track from his debut. The cyclic dance of the vintage synth riff and twisted vocal sample had the crowd enraptured, as he milked every last drop from the tune, before waving and leaving the stage to resounding cheers as the last notes reverberated around the room.

Originally published in X-Press Magazine