Review : Four Tet - There Is Love in You
PitchforkKieran Hebden first came on the scene in the 1990s as a member of Fridge, a post-rock outfit that to me always looked better on paper than they sounded on record. Whatever you think of his first band, Hebden's subsequent career can be seen as the idea of post-rock done right. His appetite for music, on the evidence presented in his albums, singles, DJ sets, and collaborations, is voracious. But Hebden has a way of transforming and integrating influences rather than channeling them. So if his loose improvised collaborations with drummer Steve Reid captured something of the spirit of the classic late-60s free jazz records on Impulse!, they also managed to carve out a unique and identifiable aesthetic that sounds very much like today. When working with others, like the wooly free-folk unit Sunburned Hand of the Man or the dubstep producer Burial, Hebden knows when to lead and when to get out of the way. But all the while, whatever the context, he's absorbing. And when it comes to his own records as Four Tet, he has a knack for combining sounds from all over and making them his own.
Rounds is the one undisputed Four Tet classic, but all are at least good. It's not unusual for Four Tet records to have a few dull patches, but given Hebden's M.O., that's never a big problem. You expect him to explore a bit, so it's okay when once in a while something doesn't quite gel. Ringer, an intriguing EP from 2008 that throbbed with a minimal pulse and revealed a surprisingly austere side to his music, is a good example. It was the kind of record you wanted to inch closer to, because you had the sense there might be more going on beneath the surface than you'd initially realized. The follow-up album, There Is Love in You, is the glorious sound of those ideas being drawn into the light.
This is the most focused Four Tet album by a huge margin, and for some listeners that could be an issue. Hebden apparently refined this music over the course of a long stint as a resident DJ at the London club Plastic People. He'd play developing tracks in his sets, see how people responded, and return to them armed with this information. And while the result isn't dance music proper, There Is Love in You definitely functions on that plane. This isn't fist-pumping music that toys with the pleasure of pop music, like one of my favorite Four Tet tunes, "Smile Around the Face". And it's not an album that bowls you over with the density and intricacy of its textures. Instead, it's both heady and physical, subtle but powerful music for thinking and moving or ideally doing both at the same time: It's been a while since a brisk walk through the city sounded this good....full text
BbcYou have to admire Kieran Hebden for sticking so rigidly to his vision. Back in 2003 the London-based producer made an album called Rounds, which became rather more popular than he’d envisaged due to its winning mix of beautiful, organic-sounding melodies and novel, cleverly-manipulated samples. Radiohead invited him out on tour, tracks from the album began to pop up on everything from sportswear ads to television gardening shows, and Hebden looked set to become a quasi-household name.
Instead, two years on he released Everything Ecstatic, a record that upped the beats-per-minute dramatically in a bid to counteract the unlovely term ‘folktronica’ he’d been saddled with, and any suggestion of commercial intent. Those listeners who abandoned Four Tet at this point may want to give There is Love in You a spin, however, because, as the title suggests: the bliss is back.
Five years is a fair gap between Four Tet albums but then Hebden’s tracks are aural mosaics, painstakingly compiled to work on several levels. The skipping two-step of Love Cry, for example, may appear relatively traditional; but take a closer listen and there are intricacies aplenty, including an underlying synth whirr that sounds oddly reminiscent of the noise Fred Flintstone’s legs used to make when he carried the car to work. This presumably wasn’t the intention....full text
Tinymixtapesne thing that is unusual about Kieran Hebden's take on electronic music as Four Tet is that it really seems to dance. The music, I mean. A lot of modern dance music is vainly repetitive, brutally over-compressed, and driven by simplistic ideas of tension and release that remind me of the line graphs I used to draw in algebra class. There is something depressing about such mechanical precision, something fatalistic about a climax you can spot from a mile away. Having my senses overloaded is not a shortcut for being impressed. And I'm not saying I don't like Daft Punk, but it isn't enough for a song to hit me in the face with drum machines and overdriven pyrotechnics. Shock and awe doesn't cut it as a strategy for winning wars, and it isn't enough as a strategy for making music either. There is no reason that humans shouldn't be able to make dance music that reflects the sense of freedom and flexibility that you get from dancing, the sense you get from having a body and being able to move it.
It wouldn't have made sense to mention dance music and Four Tet in the same paragraph in the early 00s, around the release of his second and third LPs, when music journalists were calling his stuff “folktronica.” He fought his way out of the critics' trap with 2005's all-too-appropriately titled Everything Ecstatic, and it is only in the last few years—after collaborations with everyone from Burial to polymath jazz drummer Steve Reid—that his real musical versatility has become evident. He has never made "dance music," but it has always danced, from the stubborn but genial discontinuity between the keyboard loop and the sampled jazz drums in Rounds opener “Hands” to the kaleidoscopic exuberance that fills songs like Ecstatic's “Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions.” In his albums, sounds and textures come at you from all kinds of sources and from every direction: gritty hip-hop drums, chopped-up percussion field recordings, digital bleeps and bloops. They are all together, in the same room, late at night, a little drunk, not necessarily speaking the same dialect, but dancing together and having a great time anyway. It feels like a party, but only up to a certain point; you probably wouldn't take “No More Mosquitoes” anywhere near a dance floor....full text
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