Looping State of Mind is a minimal techno album from Sweden’s The Field. Each song on the album starts with a simple loop that, as the song unfolds, slowly and subtlety adds more layers, growing into an increasingly complex track of perfectly timed breaks and complimentary sounds. As a retired record store CD slinger, I felt that a lot of the customers had negative preconceptions of techno. This was probably because the 90s delivered a lot of garbage under the guise of this genre. Think Night at the Roxbury, Eurotrash in shiny shirts, glow sticks, and lame night clubs. Hell, the cast of Jersey Shore is regularly “beating up the beat.” While there is an ironic place in my heart for this type of thing, its not the true face of techno. As an analogy, If I were a MSNBC analyst I would say that certain groups continue to portray people who listen to techno as candy raver extremists. If I were on Fox, I would continue to show pictures of people dressed as Dr. Seuss characters at raves that took place 20 years ago [see embarrassing examples]. The truth of the matter is that “techno” is a catch all term for any music made primarily with electronic instruments, from Mr. Oizo to La Bouche. Some is good, a lot is bad, but it doesn’t have just one sound or type of listener.
I asked people at the listening party what they thought of when something was classified as “minimal techno.” Every answer was different. To my surprise, no one had anything bad to say. Maybe Daft Punk helped the mainstream to embrace what I considered an often unfairly maligned genre. With a feeling that I had invited the right crowd over to take in Looping State of Mind, the listening party began.
In my opinion, the album is outstanding. The Field’s mastery of mixing various layers of sounds together is nothing short of amazing. Each song starts out very simply, hence “minimal techno,” but then adds more and more layers. What starts as a blend of one or two aural elements continues to grow into something fully actualized. This progression happens so gradually that one barely notices the changes and additions over the course of a song, but by the listener is enveloped in the sounds and nodding their head to the beat by the end of it.
Listening to Looping State of Mind is a great way to start the day. The tracks start off lazily, like someone building the energy up to get out of bed. And, like the tracks on this album, once the person is up and moving their energy continues to build. They are relaxing and at the same time their energy is rejuvenating. The tracks are upbeat and happy. They don’t distract unless you want them to. They are great to have playing in the background at work.
Party goer opinions:
Alex: “Easy to listen to, definitely good background music in social situations. I was looking forward to lulls in conversations so I could focus on the music.”
Tim: “I liked it fine, but wouldn’t listen to it on its own. I felt that it was a little derivative of Fujiya & Miyagi without vocals or Sigur Ros.”
Lauren: “I like songs with vocals so I can sing along.”
Party Verdict: All reactions were generally favorable. While the album clearly isn’t something people would listen to on a regular basis, it was agreed it was great for unobtrusive background music that would help keep social engagements lively.
My opinion: I recommend The Field and this album. I happened to catch him in DC a week ago and can say the live show is outstanding. However, other albums by The Field are better. If you aren’t familiar with his body of work, I would recommend checking out From Here We Go Sublime or the Sound of Light EP before picking up Looping State of Mind.
Favorite track: “It’s Up There“