Loops Of Your Heart: And Never Ending Nights

It was probably inevitable that Axel Willner, as many another electronic artist has done, would supplement his most recognized alias with a markedly contrasting one. Willner's known for the loop-based techno he issues under The Field name, of course, so it makes some kind of natural sense that he's selected Loops Of Your Heart as a pseudonym for this new venture (even if we're instructed that the loops notion in this new context is less a reference to a production approach than to repetitious mental phenomena).

Regardless, And Never Ending Nights, issued by the Cologne-based Magazine label, is not so much an ambient project as a synthesizer music one, with Willner presenting seven settings animated by pulsating sequencer patterns and drenched in chiming keyboard patterns and synthetic swirls and washes. Guitars and synthesizers are the primary sound generators and whatever samples there are have been thoroughly camouflaged. It's Willner openly mining the kosmische musik and krautrock traditions (as if there's any doubt, one track's even titled “Neukölln”) and drawing upon the legacies of Cluster, Klaus Schulze, Ash Ra Tempel, and Tangerine Dream for the forty-seven-minute ride. One wonders to what degree, if any, the move was inspired by the wave of attention and acclaim that Daniel Lopatin has received for his Oneohtrix Point Never project and Returnal and Replica albums.

“Neukölln” gurgles ponderously like a prototypical Cluster exploration before surrendering fully to its cyborgian impulses (though admittedly a connection naturally arises to Berlin-period Bowie in the title's Heroes reference). Derivative though it might be, there's no disputing the loveliness of “Cries,” which spreads its forlorn wings for eleven minutes. Soothing in the extreme, the seemingly free-floating piece exploits a simple pool of melodic loops to conjure an elegiac retreat of seductive appeal. Though a nimble sequencer pattern shows up partway through “Broken Bow” that could conceivably been lifted from the background of a Phaedra track, the material resists being dismissed as nothing more than a copy-cat exercise. As it develops further, “Broken Bow” mutates into a driving techno workout that sounds very much like the kind of thing one would hear on a recording issued under his more familiar alias. At such moments, And Never Ending Nights plays like a hybrid album halfway between The Field and ‘70s synthesizer music, and a similar impression arises when the tempo in “Lost In The Mirror” moves with as much light-speed as anything in The Field catalogue.

March 2012