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The Field + Walls @ XOYO, London 08/12/11

December 12, 2011

Originally posted on The 405

live

Walls and The Field are two of Kompakts brightest acts found on their generous roster, and on the basis of the pairs’ releases thus far, on paper, the purveyors of lush ambient electronica should compliment each other just fine in a live setting. And here at XOYO tonight that they do, and then some.

The duo of Sam Willis and Alessio Natalizia (of Banjo and Freakout) make up Walls, and get off to a subtle start as a, ahem, wall of feedback washes over the basement as part of a five minute build-up, before the beat kicks-in. This is how to do an intro. In fact, the set as a whole is thought out astutely, ebbing and flowing and rarely at a static pace.

It’s a surprisingly melodic experience whilst naturally utilising a driving, bass undertone of hypnosis – sort of if Wild Beasts had a sexy party but were only allowed to play krautrock. I can tell the bass is rather thick as I observe my pint, once set down, move across the stage a good metre due to the earthy vibrations before it attempts to lemming off the edge.

After a small but noticeable pause to break-up the set, they launch into two influences shared by an expletive – a Holy Fuck urgent start before evolving into the thrust and repetition of a Fuck Buttons track. The set seems to build-up towards the two magnificent penultimate tracks of ‘Burnt Sienna’ and ‘Hang Four’. Going back to the relationship between the two acts – two of the chaps from The Field’s live set-up pop up for the finale for a drum-tastic driving tribal groove. Too often acts that crouch awkwardly over their laptops and array of wires and only lit by their screens have a difficult finishing off a set rewardingly – Walls take a sledgehammer to this notion.

Darkness descends on XOYO as Alex Wilner’s The Field takes to the stage, whilst another blissful intro is greeted warmly by the now packed-crowd. This time the track, ‘It’s up There’, takes a good 10 minutes to reach it’s zenith, though this’ll turn out to be positively hurried in comparison to the rest of the set. I cannot emphasise how the inclusion of a live drummer as opposed to a loop adds to the – and I know this is an overly phrase – visceral quality to proceedings. And boy does that chap thrash the living shit out of the kit on the climatic moments.

I’m not wholly sure at first if this stretched out nature of tracks is working – arguably aided by having read a couple of negative live reviews from 2/3 years back. I insist on keeping an open-mind, but these thoughts start to creep in during the first 15 mins. However it’s half-way through ‘A Paw In My Face’ when this negativity is crushed and I understand the wonderful live experience that is The Field.

I perhaps foolishly was slightly uncomfortable that tracks weren’t related to that of the record – but what’s the point of expecting that? If I wanted to hear the record, I’d just stay at home in my pants and listen to the fucking thing extremely loudly in my headphones. What’s more, haven’t even got to ‘Over The Ice’ yet…

Which is a tour de force of phenomenal minimal techno indulgence. It’s difficult to say how long it is going on for from start to finish – I guess approximately 25 minutes for the single track. An absolutely classic nature of a well-executed dj set is what is evident – the build, rise and the fall, the teasing of the audience like a knowing cat socking a hopeless field mouse over and over, the suspense, the incessant hypnotic beat, the ecstasy. It’s like a meta version of their own track, an act of microcosmic post-modernism if you will.

When it finally does hit it’s crescendo that you’re not actually sure is ever going happen, it’s quite something, an almighty gratifying Godless drop. Seriously, why was I bitching about this again? It’s all aided by the rich sound system at XOYO which is perfect for all things electronic (still have reservations about other uses, but now’s not the time..). One thing I do bitch about is the overly chatty crowd. It’s a London thing right? Is it? Please do tell me either way.

The set is wrapped at the right point with no encore required or expected – the build/fall nature enough to quench this thirst, despite just the four songs having been played (only one from latest album Looping State of Mind incidentally). As I exit into the chilly London side-street, I am plagued by a mixture to tinnitus (naturally) and the cut-up melody of Over The Ice that refuses to budge from my brain; little was I to know that this reverberation would continue incessantly for days to come, a fact that kind of sums up the soporific, powerfully mesmerising nature of The Field as a live act.

Walls

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