Review : Four Tet - Pink
PitchforkIn March of last year, Four Tet's sole proprietor Kieran Hebden dusted off his Text Records imprint. Originally started in 2001, it had only released eight titles over the course of a decade, but 2011 would prove to be a busy year for Hebden. Rather than rest on the laurels and accolades for 2010's There Is Love in You, he released his entry in the acclaimed Fabriclive series, toured and DJed internationally, and then jumpstarted Text with two plain sleeve 12"'s: "Ego"/"Mirror" was a Four Tet collaboration with dubstep demiurge Burial and some British bloke named Thom Yorke and "Pinnacles"/"Ye Ye" was a split single featuring Four Tet and Caribou's Dan Snaith (before he assumed his Daphni moniker).
The former signified a decade's worth of British electronic music--running from Kid A through Four Tet and onto Burial-- while Four Tet's "Pinnacles" served a function similar to his 2008 EP Ringer. After the loft jazz-inspired Everything Ecstatic and a heady collaboration with noted jazz/soul/African/funk drummer Steve Reid that resulted in numerous drum-laptop improv albums and suggested that Hebden might never quite return to earth, Ringer reminded fans that Hebden has always kept an ear to the dancefloor. But whereas that EP reveled in 4/4 minimal-yet-playful techno bangers, "Pinnacles" was a decidedly more ambitious affair, intermingling dubstep's wobble with an elegant McCoy Tyner-esque piano line, Joe Meek guitar lick, and some lasers. Perhaps spurred by the "Thom Yorke Bump," it triggered a year's worth of heady dance singles from Hebden, spanning three 12"'s (with another credited to the moniker Percussions), all compiled now on Pink with an additional two unreleased tracks.
"Locked" opens things and hearkens back to the Four Tet of old. A dusty, crackling drum break that would make b-boys bob heads lopes around, but it soon abuts another machine pulse, suggesting an African polyrhythm about its downtempo pace. It's from this trickier rhythmic bed (with a substrata of bass frequencies) that Hebden builds up a wistful melody that evokes memories of his 2003 breakout album, Rounds. The unreleased "Lion" follows, suggesting both the earliest instances of late-80s tribal house as well as au courant UK bass music, the primitive yips, clipped kalimba line and speedy metabolism of the snare underpinned by a menacing drone....full text
ResidentadvisorThe dominant narrative surrounding Pink, from where I'm sitting at least, is Kieran Hebden's newfound embrace of dance music. Where past Four Tet albums have been strictly long-playing affairs, this eight-track release is a compilation of sorts, gathering together a series of vinyl singles released on Hebden's Text imprint over the past year or so.
Of course, medium and content don't necessarily dictate one another, but as any vinyl pontificator will tell you there is an important reciprocal relationship between the two. The fact that these tracks saw their first life on wax, in batches of ones and twos, to be listened to in isolation, or perhaps in a DJ mix, looms large over this record. As a result this doesn't feel like a deeply personal journey through some fantastical sonic space—instead it's comparatively bare, utilitarian, even greyscale at points. It's rare to find an LP that breaks the one hour mark while simultaneously justifying doing so. This isn't one of them.
But let's talk about the positives, because there are plenty. Hebden—much like Dan Snaith with his outings under the Daphni moniker—seems to really get house music in a way the serried ranks of Beatport clones never will. Take the opening of first track "Locked," a good minute or so of drums and nothing else—and what drums, ramshackle loops thrown together with a haphazard precision born of killer intuition. Or the muscular but tumbledown underpinnings of "Lion," whose surface is pitted with tiny, irresistibly funky percussive tics—microhouse gone free-range, godlike precision exchanged for playful improvisation. Or "Jupiters" which, after a dull spell in twinkly IDM territory, slips into a rugged, loose-limbed 2-step beat, its bassline snarling with murky, tape-fugged menace (the whole album is mixed with minimal compression and even less hi-end, as if it's some unearthed Nu Groove DAT from late '80s)....full text
SputnikmusicWhile it might be obvious to assume that the mark of any great collaboration is how well two separate forces can work together, it's perhaps even more tantalizing to see how well that collaborative project can reverb within its conspirators long after the fact. For Kieran Hebden, a man who has constantly been accused of always working, the claim must also be made that at the same time he's also always listening as well. For when Hebden (as Four Tet) writes a tune, he brings the whole world with him. In his universe, there are no genre parameters, no limitations on backgrounds, or localized sounds that should be limited to that particular area. He's a laptop globetrotter, a traveling enthusiast who writes music as a journey, and through him can we see the world, even if it is at the expense of only seeing it through his eyes. This makes mapping out a trajectory or setting up any kind of expectations somewhat pointless and irrelevant; the trick with any Hebden material is to simply allow yourself to get lost in his melodic oblivion, and leave that kind of lingering crossfire for the boys in the basement to worry about. Pink however, is something of a different entity for the artist then; his usual tricks are still on display (the cut-up vocals, the shimmering synthesizers), but there's a definite intent to this release that gives it a rather definitive statement. Which could inadvertently end up tipping the scales against this release, but behind the twinkling keys and the earnest melodies lies something of great insistence, a pulse that seems to be pushing Hebden further and further towards the idea of making bona-fide "dance music".
Which could perhaps be a direct result of his recent turn behind the decks at Fabric, his mix of course an exercise in attempting to recreate just what it feels like to step into those hallowed halls. The sounds of traffic outside, the music hitting you not directly, but instead bouncing off the walls allowing you to absorb it only as a kind of shockwave, the bass making a mockery of your nervous system. He may have also recently sold out Brixton Academy in near record-breaking time, but Pink represents a far more intimate affair, with Hebden playing the part of a witch doctor standing on high leading his small but dedicated following. It's also a far simpler offering from the artist, and that reasoning might be partially inspired by the fact that Pink isn't really a proper album. With 75 percent of the material having already been released, Tet's latest is instead something of a rounding up of his restless imagination, a gathering of his various singles and 12" releases that he's put out on his own Text imprint over the last 12 months. This doesn't lessen the immediacy of the release's individual components however, but with every track seemingly recorded at different times, in different places and perhaps, in an entirely different frame of mind, it's hard to find any kind of continuity or a sense of familiarity. Instead it's a rather dichotomic release, an idea only exacerbated by its inception, and as a whole it's something that's just a little difficult to get excited about....full text
Four Tet Album Reviews
Sweetslyrics Top 20 Artists
Four Tet Lyrics
Have you ever cried while listening to a song?