The Field @ The Hug & Pint, Glasgow, 14 Dec
Axel Willner subtly adds and subtracts from his sound to create compositions that run the gamut from ambient to full-on techno
Kleopatra splits the difference between the sleek electro-pop of latter-day Lykke Li and the manipulated weirdness of Grimes in an opening set that is a little jarring given the headline act. Still, it functions well on its own merits thanks to the polished execution and excellent vocals.
The Field's hefty rig of synthesizers, drum machines and samplers is maneouvered to the front of the stage and Axel Willner emerges from the hobbit hole in the back corner. With his fisherman's cap, tiny cup of red wine and a few tweaks to the system, he's ready to go. Made of Steel. Made of Stone provides a slow, easy introduction, building up various loops and drones, adding a drum track here and there. Like so many of his compositions, the additions and changes are so subtle that it almost comes as a surprise to find yourself in the midst of a fully fledged techno track after six or seven minutes.
Other songs from the most recent Field album, Infinite Moment, follow. The title track and Divide Now are willful and direct, punctuated by distinct microsamples and piercing drum tracks, before the blissful highlight of the night, Who Goes There, glides by in glacial repose, leaning into Willner's more ambient inclinations.
Firmly in the zone by now, he gives a wry smile as a smoke machine splutters and just about manages to give the stage the eerie look it was going for. Cupid's Head and Monte Verita close the night, as Willner feverishly goes about the business of adjusting, twiddling, raising and lowering, the subtlest of machinations to create the perfect conditions. The final product may seem minimal, but the effort behind it is anything but.