4.5.07

A Joy

Back after a Bank Holiday-based break...That Keiran Hebden, he's a wag isn't he? After (at least) three fantastic albums as Four Tet, one's which pushed the boundaries of accessibility to the very limits, he went and spaced out on us. Now, I consider Pause, Rounds and Everything Ecstatic to be the very epitome of what I want out of my electronica. Electronic music of any sort; could be house, techno, ambient... could be Dutch gabber for all I care, what I want out of it is the same approach hebden takes to his creations. They're insanely creative, chopping found sounds, samples and loops in all the most unexpected ways, but somehow manage to create the most catchy melodies you can imagine.

Of course, after Everything Ecstatic was in the bag, the former Fridgeman stepped out of the box a little, which I suppose is fair enough. Working with someone like Steve Reid must be a wonderful honour - for someone so clearly a jazz, funk and soul devotee as Hebden is, Reid is pretty much the Daddy of the percussion world. And yet the resultant albums (The Exchange Sessions I and II) were, while worthy, difficult. Is this a bad thing? Probably not. But the Keiran Hebden I'm used to can hang a tune on the slightest hook, and it seems as though the ardour of improvisation, such second nature to Reid, didn't come naturally, especially when allowed such lengthy freedom as these albums displayed.

Tongues though, from this year, is more tightly controlled, more structured, and for me at least, a step in the right direction. I'm well aware that I'm guilty of the same My Band faux pas that I've almost certainly castigated others for; but nonetheless Keiran Hebden had a rare talent for making fairly complex, 'difficult' music accessible, and that fell by the wayside a little on the Exchange Sessions. Tongues is still not perfect, and it still lacks the time so clearly poured into the likes of Rounds, but it's considerably more focussed and accurate, and benefits from that. Seeing Four Tet in the live setting shows what he can do given carefully-prepared source material, and Tongues is definitely more like that.

But it still doesn't come close to Four Tet. It's a shame, and I guess doesn't really matter in the grand scheme of things, but for now I'm posting Four Tet rather than Hedben/Reid. It's possibly the pinnacle of Four Tet's output - his most focussed album, Rounds, and his most sublime track, She Moves She. It comes after the opening Hands, which introduces the listener to the Four Tet experience admirably, and it's big of beat, bold of interpretation, and beautiful of execution. This track sums up Rounds particularly for me, and Four Tet in general.

1. Open with drum loop.
2. Introduce Balinese-sounding tuned percussion and what sounds like a shamisen riff.
3. Do not over-egg.
4. Introduce a big schwack of out-of-place noise.
5. Listen as each element combines unbelievably finely.

Four Tet - She Moves She (Rounds, 2003)

2 comments:

The Daily Growl said...

And after all that, Fridge is back too! Live dates this summer!

btw, a slightly belated welcome back to the world of blogging...

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