Four Tet, aka Kieran Hebden, has always posed a bit of a problem for me. He is undoubtedly a musical genius I can therefore never figure out why he isn't credited more often for the quality of his work. He has always been capable of producing phenomenally atmospheric and intelligent music. `Rounds' was and still is an utter master piece filled with original and intriguing arrangements that manage to preserve the listener's interest throughout. `Everything Ecstatic' followed up on this with yet more of the same and most recently the `Ringers EP' showcased Kieran's developing sense of rhythm.
We therefore come to 2010 and the first full length Four Tet release in five years. He has in the meantime been working with Steve Reid and undertaking monthly DJ residencies at various clubs and you can hear these influences in `There Is Love In You'. The album opens with `Angel Echoes' which is a typically atmospheric opener with what is initially a very stripped back atmosphere, the tapping rhythms lead nicely into repetitious vocals echoing the album title over and over to build intricacy. It is also accompanied by simple instrumentation which gently adds to the collection of sound in such as to almost create a dream like sweep of sound. First single `Love Cry' follows this incredibly calming introduction picking up on the gentle rhythm and building on it. This is a very obvious example of where Kieran's club residencies have influenced his music. The initial slow buzz comes to be dominated by a complex drum track that patiently develops into something worthy of taking centre stage in any decent DJ set, of course with the aid of some nice synth and repeating vocals. There will be some fantastic remixes of this track I am sure as well.
So after that nine minute wonder Kieran treats you to what is initially a very smooth slightly euphoric dream like track. It is a warm and joyous moment kind of like the constantly grinning brother to `Tubular Bells', and it acts as a kind of excited greeting as well when you hear the eleven second recording of `Pablo's Heart' on the next track. This is literally as it describes a recording of Kieran's godson's heartbeat. And the combination of the two tracks makes a very nice atmosphere as well as helping the album to flow smoothly into `Sing'. This is a fidgety track with a repeated synth hook and complex bubbling rhythms and some interesting samples thrown in for good measure. This is a good Four Tet track with nice variation part way through as the gently stomping rhythm builds and changes.
The next track is `This Unfolds' which starts with an interesting rhythm that sounds something like a toad trying to beat box. At least that's what I imagine in my head and I think it's quite funny. The drums behind are initially simple and the guitar balances well. A series of chiming and whistling samples are slowly added to the track before briefly giving way to be allow a pulsing and rattling rhythm to add itself to the mix. The ensemble then ebbs and flows to its calm conclusion carrying you along carefully for the ride before leaving you in the ring of `Reversing'. This really is just a bridge track into `Plastic People' but Kieran doesn't try to do anything dramatic in it, instead he opts for keeping the flow of the album with it and in that way the track really works.
`Plastic People' then starts with a rhythm lead by some nice resonating bells, handclaps and shaking percussion. The track then gets a lot denser quicker than others on the album but always maintains that initial pace. The higher pitched lead lines of the track fade in and out as more percussion as added creating a nice flow that oscillates its focus between the two parts of the track. Finally the album is closed out by `She Just Likes to Fight' which is a quietly thoughtful track that seems to reflect on old memories. The music then slowly seems to focus on a single idea as if focusing on a specific memory. This results in the track being pushed forward by bouncing rhythms and softly crescendoing guitars. It is a strong way to end the album.
So at the end of those 47 minutes you are left to wonder what Kieran Hebden has achieved. The answer is simple in my opinion. This is a wonderfully focused and intelligent album with some truly joyous moments as well as those that just sweep you into the world of Four Tet. It is a fantastic album that will be loved by existing fans and will likely sway a fair few more with its openness, consistency and continued originality.