Cupid’s Head (Kompakt CD 110) is Berlin based Swede Alex Willner’s fourth full length album since his debut “From Here We Go Sublime” and it’s a good one! The cover gives nothing away as to what to expect being plain black with The Field and the album title written in black.
The album kicks off with They Won’t See Me, a blissed out yet relentlessly pounding piece of pseudo-techno that is, it has to be said, right up my street. It’s repetitive but deceptively complex in its structure building from the beginning and taking you along for the ride. You find yourself focusing on a particular noise or loop that is introduced then losing that and finding a new one. This is not big room techno – it is mindful and intelligent, uplifting and moving and is equally at home played in the house or in front of a club crowd.
Black Sea comes up next and immediately conjures up memories of early morning beach parties waiting for the sun to come up. Arms in the air, eyes closed and swaying to the music with your newest bestest friends. This is my kind of music and it will appeal to both newcomers to electronic music as well as those looking to spark memories of past glories.
The title track has a fabulous vocal loop layered over swirling synths, familiar hats and bass kick. The more I listen through this record the more I’m reminded of Orbital’s Belfast – it’s not the same, but it certainly has a flavour of what is probably one of my favourite tracks of all time…and that’s a good thing in my book.
This record feels effortlessly constructed and this allows you to immerse yourself in the music and be guided by it which brings us onto track four – A Guided Tour – and to me this is the stand out track. There’s a wonderfully looped female vocal sample that comes in at two and a half minutes that locks you in to the trip. I love the way that Willner takes a loop which your brain can’t help to grasp hold of then takes you forward and back from it exploring new ideas and then coming back to the loop. It’s trippy stuff, both dark and elevating in equal measure and this brings us onto No. No… a brooding track built around a sample loop of a woman, or is it a man, saying no and morphs into a somewhat dark and murky soundscape that brings to mind horror film themes. It’s an interesting track and I suppose that sums up what this album as a whole manages to be – both intelligent and moving.
The final track, 20 Seconds of Affection loops a sample (which reminded me of Spacemen 3 for some reason) for forty seconds or so before bringing in a pounding kick drum and slowly introducing other loops and sounds from beneath the main theme. Again, the words I keep reaching for is blissed out, trippy, moving, intelligent and uplifting. It’s not ambient but it sort of is. It’s not techno but it sort of is.
I’ve been away from new electronic music for a while now, but this and the other stuff that is coming out on the Kompakt label (see previous reviews) has reminded me why I got into this type of music in the first place. Put this on, turn the lights down low and allow yourself to be taken every which way. Alternatively seek out a club that plays this kind of music, tune in, turn on, get your arms in the air and let the loops wash over you.
Highly recommended whether you think you like electronic music or not!
Released 30th September