- Fans get really nervous when a beloved artist admits to having struggled with his latest work. In press releases and interviews leading up to Cupid's Head, Swedish producer Axel Willner—known these last eight years mostly as the Field—spoke of the "awkward" difficulty of sitting down and getting to work on his fourth album. He mentioned the pressure of producing the record after the popular and critical success of his first three, and the hectic touring schedule of the previous two years.
According to him, it all began to come together when he finished his first compelling loop, which would go on to form the basis of "No. No…." This is fitting with his music's guiding aesthetic—his third album is called Looping State Of Mind, after all. Once he got going, Willner also decided that Cupid's Head would be the first record since his debut that would be his work alone. Gone are the studio add-ons and organic flourishes of bassist Dan Enqvist and drummers John Stanier and Andreas Soderstrom. As a result, the krautrock elements of those records are mostly absent here.
Because of this change in formula, Cupid's Head feels curiously out of place in The Field's catalogue, as though it might have made more sense as a second rather than his fourth album. But this is no cause for complaint. With six expansive tracks spread out over 54 minutes, Cupid's Head is an engulfing effort that wholly submerges the listener in Willner's trademark loops and hypnotic effects. At times, it seems like his most interestingly textured and complicated release to date. The record is filled with latent complexities: the way certain elements lapse in the middle of a track's heady sway, only to be replaced by a slew of newly interwoven components; the way the extending, ringing tones of "Black Sea" lap against its steady throb in an increasingly luxurious pattern, until these waves of sound retreat completely behind a dark, wintry synth and whimpered vocal samples.
The title track expands from another dizzying vocal loop into an expansive bed of synths, while "A Guided Tour" flips that formula, opening with a glimmering first-light melody before clouding over with gaseous puffs of noise. "No.No…," the album's creative starting point, begins with the titular vocal loop echoing in empty space, as a noise that almost sounds like wind rippling a flag wraps around its edges. Slowly, the track grinds to motion, pulsing on cushy synths and a twitchy almost-beat. As it ends again in a sluggish crawl, it sounds like one of Willner's most affirming and beatific creations to date—the gorgeous centerpiece for what is yet another transcendent album by The Field.
01. They Won't See Me
02. Black Sea
03. Cupid's Head
04. A Guided Tour
05. No. No...
06. 20 Seconds Of Affection