The Field (musician)
The Field at Era New Horizons, Wrocław, Poland, July 30, 2009
|Birth name||Axel Willner|
|Also known as||Cordouan
Loops of Your Heart
|Years active||1996 – present
2003 – present (as The Field)
Axel Willner is a Swedish electronic music producer and DJ from Stockholm and currently based in Berlin, best known for his critically acclaimed releases as The Field that blend micro-samples of traditional pop songs into his unique brand of atmospheric minimal techno.
Born in southern Sweden, Willner spent his formative years living in Stockholm and (for a brief time) Lisbon. As a teenager he studied at a formal music academy but cited groups like Misfits and Dead Kennedys as inspiration to pick up the guitar and play in punk bands.
Willner became enamored with the burgeoning electronic music scene in the mid-1990s. He started playing drone and Warp-influenced IDM in Stockholm venues with friend Ola Keijer (alias Ola K) as duo Speedwax. Beginning in the early 2000s, Willner produced guitar-based ambient music using multiple pseudonyms (Lars Blek, Porte, Cordouan, James Larsson) through his own Garmonbozia label, and performed alongside fellow Swedish musicians such as Andreas Tilliander, Sarah Nyberg Pergament (alias Action Biker), and longtime friend Johan Skön.
Willner began recording music under The Field moniker in 2003 as a platform to combine his early affinity for pop artists like Lionel Richie, Kate Bush, and The Four Tops with a myriad of more recent influences ranging from shoegaze bands like Slowdive and My Bloody Valentine to 1990s ambient electronica such as Seefeel and the projects of Wolfgang Voigt (largely the acclaimed albums under Voigt's Gas handle). In 2004, he submitted a demo tape to celebrated German label Kompakt and was subsequently signed. Shortly thereafter, in early 2005, Willner debuted as The Field with a remix of Annie's single "Heartbeat" and also released the "Things Keep Falling Down" 12-inch. The 2006 release of 12-inch "Sun & Ice" (in addition to remixes for James Figurine and 120 Days) added to the growing anticipation for a debut LP.
Kompakt released his first full-length From Here We Go Sublime on March 26, 2007. The record received near-universal critical acclaim; according to Metacritic, it was the best-reviewed album of the year (tied with Untrue by UK dubstep producer Burial). Resident Advisor placed the record 29th on their list of the decade's top 100 albums. Willner himself has admitted to being surprised by the positive reception, stating that "since it is a bit different than (most) other techno, I thought that people wouldn't like it" and "it ended up bigger than I ever expected."
Later in 2007, Willner became the first musician to participate in the Sound of Light project curated by the Nordic Light Hotel, using his experience at the Stockholm hotel as basis for his EP of the same name. Also during that year he contributed remixes to artists such as Thom Yorke, Battles, and Gui Boratto.
Extensive touring in both Europe and North America supported Sublime, which included appearances at Pitchfork Music Festival, Sónar, Field Day, and All Tomorrow's Parties, as well as select dates with !!! (Chk Chk Chk). But Willner soon grew weary of his solo performances and incorporated a backing band times made up of (at various times) multi-instrumentalist Andreas Söderstrom (of Taken by Trees), bassist/keyboardist Dan Enqvist, and drummer Jesper Skarin. While this collaborative approach to live performance and songwriting in some measure recalled his time playing in rock bands, it also fostered a more organic evolution of The Field's ever-expanding sound palette. Willner abandoned any utilization of his laptop during concerts in favor of live mixing with synthesizers, samplers, and drum machines, although for studio production he has kept the Jeskola Buzz freeware that he had used since his earliest recording endeavors.
The Field's second album Yesterday and Today released via Kompakt on May 18, 2009. Rather than adhering to the strict 4x4 techno of his debut, Willner incorporated far more diverse influences for his sophomore outing: Manuel Göttsching and 1970s Krautrock, the disco of Giorgio Moroder, the soundtrack works of director John Carpenter, and minimalist composers Steve Reich and Philip Glass. Recorded on a remote island outside of Stockholm, the studio sessions drew upon Willner's renewed interest in collaboration and thus featured contributions from many other musicians, most notably Battles drummer John Stanier on the title track. The album also included a cover of The Korgis' 1980 single "Everybody's Got to Learn Sometime". Following the much-praised release were multiple festival appearances and a stateside tour with The Juan Maclean, and a remix EP with interpretations from Gold Panda, Walls, and Rainbow Arabia. "The More That I Do" was released as the record's lone single, backed with remixes courtesy of Thomas Fehlmann (of The Orb) and Foals.
Following the release of Yesterday and Today, Willner relocated from Stockholm to Germany and went on to produce remixes for artists such as Maserati, Bear in Heaven, Errors, and Harmonia (specifically a track from their Tracks and Traces collaboration with Brian Eno). He then joined Cologne Tape, a German-based collective including (among others) John Stanier, Jens-Uwe Beyer (Popnoname), and Michaela Dippel (Ada), whose Motorik-fueled debut entitled Render released June 14, 2010, on the Magazine imprint.
Kompakt issued Looping State of Mind, Willner's third LP as The Field, on October 24, 2011. The album expanded on the organic instrumentation of Yesterday and Today in its use of piano, synthesizer, bass guitar, acoustic drums, steel drums, and vibraphone (among others), while focusing on themes of memory and repetition. Keeping in line with its predecessors it garnered a considerable amount of critical praise. A remix EP followed in 2012 with contributions from Junior Boys, Blondes, and Wolfgang Voigt's latest project Mohn. Also in 2012, Willner released And Never Ending Nights as Loops of Your Heart, a more drone-inclined venture through Magazine on February 13.
- From Here We Go Sublime (2007)
- Yesterday and Today (2009)
- Looping State of Mind (2011)
- Cupid's Head (2013)
- Things Keep Falling Down (2005)
- Sound of Light (Heartbeats International, 2007)
- Yesterday and Today Remixe (2009)
- Looping State of Mind Remixe (2012)
- "Annie" (2005)
- "Sun & Ice" (2006)
- "The More That I Do" (2009)
- "Comenius Garden" (2012)
- Annie - "Heartbeat" (2005; released as "Annie" single)
- Marit Bergman - "No Party" (2006)
- Familjen - "Hög Luft" (2006)
- James Figurine - "55566688833" (2006)
- The Fine Arts Showcase - "Chemical Girl" (2006)
- 120 Days - "Come Out (Come Down, Fade Out, Be Gone)" (2006)
- Battles - "Tonto" (2007)
- Gui Boratto - "Hera" (2007)
- The Honeydrips - "Fall from a Height" (2007)
- Maps - "You Don't Know Her Name" (2007)
- Andreas Tilliander - "Stay Down" (2007)
- DeVotchKa - "The Clockwise Witness" (2008)
- Popnoname - "Touch" (2008)
- Sasha - "Mongoose" (2008)
- Thom Yorke - "Cymbal Rush" (2008)
- Bear in Heaven - "Ultimate Satisfaction" (2010)
- Delorean - "Real Love" (2010)
- Errors - "Bridge or Cloud?" (2010)
- Harmonia & Eno '76 - "Luneburg Heath" (2010)
- Maserati - "Pyramid of the Moon" (2010)
- Tocotronic - "Schall und Wahn" (2010)
- Walls - "Hang Four" (2010)
- Wildbirds & Peacedrums - "The Well" (2010)
- Junior Boys - "Banana Ripple" (2011)
- Masquer - "Happiness" (2011)
- Miracle - "The Visitor" (2011)
- Wasscass - "Openfield" (2011)
- Battles - "Sweetie & Shag" (2012)
- S.C.U.M. - "Amber Hands" (2012)
- Tame Impala - "Mind Mischief" (2013)
- Sally Shapiro - "Lives Together" (2013)
- Interview with Pitchfork, 16 April 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
- Interview with Stylus Magazine, 25 March 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
- Interview with Autres Directions, March 2004. Retrieved 19 August 2012
- Archived Garmonbozia label website. Retrieved 19 August 2012
- Official biography on Kompakt website. Retrieved 19 August 2012
- Official Garmonbozia website. Retrieved 19 August 2012
- Interview with XLR8R, 9 December 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
- Interview with Time Out New York, 17 October 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2012 
- Reception section of From Here We Go Sublime article. From Here We Go Sublime#Release and reception
- Metacritic: Highest Scoring Albums of 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
- Resident Advisor: Top 100 Albums of the 2000s, 25 January 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
- Interview with Bodytonic, 7 May 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2012
- Nordic Light Hotel press release: "Anonymous lounge music is a thing of the past," 10 December 2007. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
- Interview with The Stool Pigeon, 22 November 2011. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
- Interview with musicOMH, September 2009. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
- Resident Advisor news: "Ada, The Field, and more join forces as Cologne Tape," 12 May 2010. Retrieved 19 August 2012. 
- Interview with Shanghaiist, 2 December 2010. Retrieved 22 August 2012. 
- Metacritic: Critic reviews for Looping State of Mind. Retrieved 20 August 2012. 
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Axel Willner.|
- The Field on MySpace
- Garmonbozia (Willner's recording label)
- Official page at Kompakt
- The Field discography on Discogs