i interviewed the field
PART ONE - THE LOVE SONG
Axel Willner (The Field) likes those "cheesy love tracks," the ones from the '80s. Those generic tales, with multiple real-life applications and pan-generational tendencies. He says: "it's always the female voice, that most of the time doesn't say anything." That's what he cuts up, to make up the tracks on his album. So he's saying this to me, and all I can think is: "you've dismembered the voice of the Other and muted all narrative flow of the love story. All you've left is a discernible trail of uh's, ee's and i's, and that is DARK." So I decide to say it out loud. "I don't know if it's dark," he says.
PART TWO - THE SONGS
And he's right, it doesn't even sound dark, if you listen to 'From Here We Go Sublime' it is deeply uplifting. He's just "a sucker for those kind of tracks, and they really affect me. This is just how I'm trying to recreate my own feeling of it." Through translating Lionel Richie into a crescendo-laden rhythmic ambience, he turns "a vision of that feeling that I have," into sound. No documentation, or collaboration, just a bedroom and "the song itself, what it stands for to me." Intimate recording with a Finnish tracker called Buff. This is all about one person's reaction to a sound, which he can't put into words: "it's hard to share with someone else," he says. Yet these extended and prolonged fragments sound impersonal to another ear, retaining the universality of those '80s songs and holding on to the dynamics necessary for a daydream tap dance.
PART THREE - SONGS OUT LOUD
Replaying those reactions regularly at night, it must rub off some of the intensity, each repetition replacing the original feeling, which was never documented and so only exists through memory. Does he feel it each time? "Yeah, it does feel good, because every time there's a happy vibe coming from the song, it's not that overwhelming." And there's no element of improvisation? "No." And would this get boring? "When I get stuck, I start a new moniker, with a new process at its base." This music is as much about dancing as it is about reflection.
PART FOUR - WHERE THE SONGS BELONG
So I ask Axel, "where do your songs belong?" and before he could answer, I started talking about Rem Koolhaas and his elevators - the historicity of ambient noise, and the topology of his songs. How I think the train route from the Hague to Rotterdam with its deep flatness, and its consistent plunges into thin strips of water, with the occasional pointed home always moving forwards, reminded me of his songs. He agreed with the elevators, what with the mechanical connections meaning anywhere can be connected, doing away the classical issues of composition, scale, proportion and detail and making these inbetween spaces habitable by sound. But Axel thinks it's up to the listener to decide. He read somewhere that it's "inbetween the living room and the dancefloor," and I think it's strange the experience is confined to rooms. Some music is made for landscapes, non-stationary movement that looks outwards but can be tapped inwards and coiled back out through the feet with a mass of people side by side telling numerous cheesy stories in their heads.
The Field is playing at the Plastic People Kompakt party in London Wednesday 2nd of May. For a nice review of his album that talks about how it actually sounds (?!) go to the Village Voice.