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Wednesday, December 13

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Review Tue Jun 11 2013

Review: The Field @ The Empty Bottle, 6/5/13

The last time I saw The Field play at the Empty Bottle, it felt more like a house party in somebody's basement than a music venue. Axel Willner, the chief architect behind The Field, had a backing band of a drummer and bassist with him as he played well crafted minimalist mid tempo electronica to an enthused packed house. Last Wednesday night was...different. And I personally mean that in the best way possible, but we'll get to that momentarily.

First up was the opening act, was Chicago's own When Clouds Attack. I've seen the name around town and they're opened for some people I'm really into (Teengirl Fantasy, Supreme Cuts), so I'm glad I finally got a chance to see who they are. When Clouds Attack are a chillwave trio comprised of a drummer, guitarist, and keyboardist, and although I only caught about the last half of their set, I enjoyed what I heard.

As we've already established, The Field is the nom de plume of Swedish electronic composer Axel Wilner. He's been making beats since 2003 and has released three albums so far. In the last few years, he's been travelling with a band to give his compositions a bit more depth. He played Empty Bottle in late 2011 and Pitchfork in 2012 with this lineup. For this tour, he left the band behind for a solo performance which left some at the Empty Bottle last Wednesday night annoyed and confused, but left most of the crowd surprisingly delighted.

He took the stage with the essence of minimalism; minimal lighting, minimal setup, minimal banter. The first piece that he played was a slow, brooding, menacing composition that filled the atmosphere with ominous anticipation. It was akin to the recent film scores of Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. These musical trends continued throughout his set and numerous themes started to emerge. Bass heavy. Ambient. Hypnotic.

Overall, his set reminded me of something the experimental musically minded Lampo would book, or a performance at a modern art museum such as the MCA, or even a musical accompaniment to a screening of the Carl Sagan documentary "Cosmos." This ties into my major criticism of the night, that I wish there was a visual component to go along with what I was hearing. Musically, it was a deeply cinematic experience and I feel that the addition of visuals would have augmented the overall experience.

As the show continued, I looked around and saw that most of the people were really into it in their own idiosyncratic ways. I saw a woman doing a subtle dance in sync with the bass. I saw a man up front touching the speakers getting a tactile experience. I looked at The Field and noted his technical skill and attention to detail behind his encampment of mixing boards. The whole thing felt vaguely spiritual. Knowing I wasn't going to hear the crystalline techno of "Over the Ice," I closed my eyes and embraced what was in front of me, and I'm incredibly that happy I did.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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