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And Never Ending Nights

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Album Review

Mere months after Looping State of Mind, the gently exploratory third full-length installment of Axel Willner's celebrated work as the Field, the Cologne-transplanted Swede is back with a brand new project, bundled in typically evocative language: And Never Ending Nights, his debut album under the name Loops of Your Heart. As the nomenclature would suggest, there's hardly a radical shift in tone here — this music is patient, contemplative, and calmly expansive: like the Field, but even more so. But the approach represents a considerable break with Willner's standard working methods, foregoing his usual micro-clipped samples and loops (ironically enough) for a set of largely beatless (and sometimes entirely non-rhythmic), aesthetically "pure," analog synth-based drones and pulsations. Basically, he's abandoning a uniquely distinctive (if by now rather familiar) sound and style all his own in order to explore something that's been done time and again, from Germany's Kosmiche Musik pioneers of the '70s to the most recent clutch of hipster-approved sine-wave surfers — Arp, Emeralds, Oneohtrix Point Never, and the like. Which isn't to say that Willner doesn't manage to wring some effective music out of these wheezy old synthesizers, spinning an impressively broad emotional palette from a sparse economy of means — from the woozy, pulsing amniotic warmth of opener "Little You, You Should Develop" to the yawning, forebodingly sinister "Neukölln" and "Broken Bow" (the latter of which eventually evolves the album's only proper beat: a stark, robotic tech-thump tethered to layers of restless, writhing arpeggiation) to the utter, meditative calm of "Cries." The latter — 11 minutes of slowly billowing, shifting analog drones eventually joined by distant percussion almost too faint to leave a conscious impression, like the empty, incidental thud of far-off fireworks — is both the most potent and seemingly the simplest thing here. It's hardly as remarkable or distinctive as the soft shimmering magic of the Field, or even as purely refreshing as the lovely "Riding the Bikes," Loops of Your Heart's contribution to Kompakt's Pop Ambient 2012 compilation (whose soft guitar-looping approach is almost entirely jettisoned here) — but it would still make for a fine, welcome, warming (and occasionally, slightly, chilling) soundtrack to never-ending nights, or any other eternity you might have handy. ~ K. Ross Hoffman, Rovi

And Never Ending Nights, Loops Of Your Heart
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