Review ·


Youre not going to find too many people who can convincingly
argue against the idea that, for the last few years at least, Scandinavia has
been the cultural nexus of some seriously awesome techno music. Annie, Erlend
Oye, the Knife, and Röyksopp, to name a few, have been the driving forces of a
renaissance that most say is inspired by the frighteningly Aryan ABBA but that upon
closer scrutiny is clearly more indebted to Bjork, who hails from Iceland but
should be included in the same context here.

The latest addition to this blonde pavilion of Nordic
wunderkinds is Axel Willner, so known here as the Field. You might already know
about the Field if youve heard his fantastically rare remix of Annies
Heartbeat, a great example of how in seemingly all regionally focused art
scenes the constituent artists tend to be rather incestuous (the Bristol-centered
trip-hop wave of the mid-90s, the Elephant 6 collective, et cetera). Ill save
you the suspense: From Here We Go Sublime,
Willners debut, is a wonderful, majestic piece of work. I dont remember being
this excited by a dance record since the Avalanches released Since I Left You in 2001.

For those of you who get their rocks off by peeling away
an artists forebears and influences until you hit bone, the usual suspects are
all here: Aphex Twin, Eno, Kraftwerk, Wolfgang Voigt (whose Kompakt label, conveniently,
is the very one that released this record). But the real magic comes when
Willner drinks from stranger wells. The albums title track provides our most
profound example, sampling, of all things, the 50s doo-wop classic I Only
Have Eyes for You by the Flamingos and essentially supplying a textbook for
sample-heads on how to deconstruct a classic of the American musical canon and
totally reinvent it. Structurally the song starts with a sliver, looping a
barely discernable fragment until we hit the mid-point, when suddenly the very
song being sampled is reconstituted to its original form. Its a shocking
moment, and it isnt until the loop reintroduces itself, winding the song back
down from a totally different fragment, that you realize just how delicious and
haunting all this truly is. Mesmerizing doesnt begin to describe it; rather it
feels like you are listening to something as it dies very slowly, looking for
breath where ultimately there is none. If you can think of a better way to end
an album, my hat is off.  

There are other great moments on this album, too, and you
dont have to look very hard to find them. A Paw in My Face pretty much
calcifies exactly what dance music should sound like if ever it is to escape its
novelty act status (although ending a song with a sample of Lionel Ritchies
Hello, while hilarious and cheeky, really doesnt help the cause). The
Little Heart Beats So Fast is another sexy little marvel that almost feels
like a Blur song were Albarn and company rabid dance enthusiasts. Good Things
End has a great industrial vibe to it, very creepy at first until it blooms
into a beat that may be cribbed from those early-70s funk wizards Cymande.

As danceable as From
Here We Go Sublime
is, what its really built for is not the partys climax
but the nights denouement -- that moment in every great dusk-to-dawn rave when
the sweat is beginning to dry on your thighs and as much as your body wants to
go home and crash, the rest of you is desperate to keep going. Its not exactly
groundbreaking, nor is it strictly dance or techno as we currently understand
those words (there is definitely a debt owed to ambient music on this album,
though its difficult to see through the high tempos sometimes). But it can
prove utterly magical at times.





"Sun and Ice" MP3

  • Over The Ice
  • A Paw In My Face
  • Good Things End
  • The Little Heart Beats So Fast
  • Everday
  • Silent
  • The Deal
  • Sun & Ice
  • Mobilia
  • From Here We Go Sublime
Tarwater - Spider Smile The Cribs Men's Needs, Women's Needs, Whatever

after the novelty wears of you realize that there is not much there. different but not lasting, see what you think of it in 6 months.


The only people who don't like this album are those who don't like electronic music. Everyone else is at worst mildly indifferent.

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