61 of 62 people found the following review helpful
on 7 March 2007
Interesting to see how this CD has polarised reviewers' opinion on these pages to such a great degree. `Rounds' is certainly not an album for hardcore musos only, but neither does it give up its treasures immediately.
On the first couple if listens it sounds like a bit of mess. You hear a collage of skittering, cut-up beats, electronic effects and samples of `real' instruments and other found sounds all thrown together with seemingly no overall design.
Listen on and persevere, though, and the picture changes. Threads of melody and structure appear on each and every track and the album turns into a multi-layered treasure trove of sound. `She Moves She' features a frisky beat, gently plucked strings and a chiming percussion melody. `My Angel Rocks Back and Forth' is anchored by a heartbreakingly gorgeous harp string motif, so simple in its execution but so effective.
The quality does not drop throughout. `As Serious As Your Life' has plucked guitars and clapping frisky beats whilst the superb closing track, `Slow Jam' has an aching melody and the best use of a squeaky toy I have ever heard in popular music.
The music is so rich and dense that you genuinely do hear something new on every listed. I suppose `Rounds' fits squarely into the Folktronica genre and this style of music will obviously not be to everyone's taste (it would be a dull world if we all liked the same thing), but it is a shame that those reviewers who have been so negative about this CD cannot at least recognise the extraordinarily fecund creative process on display here.
I have loved music for about 18 years and this is one of my favourite CDs of all time. An absolute beauty if you give it a chance. Don't let the nay-sayers win the day - if you agree with me, vote `yes' below!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on 21 April 2004
Kieran Hebden's (for he is Four Tet) latest work is an exploration of abstract melody and tranquil beats. The album title draws partially on the notion of singing rounds and repetition. And this is evident in the crisp percussive loops, sprinkled with intriguing pizzicato banjo sounds, balalaika phrases, and the scraps of discordant sample that are perfectly scattered around.
The album is a feast of unlikely juxtaposition, such as the melodic harp and ghostly, scratchy echo of industrial metronome, overlaid with backwards samples of My Angel Rocks Back & Forth. Elsewhere there are sparse and soothing jazzy pieces, gentle rolling percussion, jangley melotron and hints of the Ipcress File.
Hebden says "This record has a 2am lonely feeling, because that was largely when it was made, on my own, in my little flat" - and that is just how it feels. It's an inspired and original collection of delicately chilled and often haunting, melancholic pieces. An album of rare intensity that feels like an honoured insight into the personal moods of Kieran Hebden.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2004
Mr Hebden has certainly achieved his own style of beautiful and almost haunting melodies and sounds. The 10 tracks on rounds seem to convey feelings such as loneliness and also proactivity. It's quite weird, to tell the truth, but addictive to listen to at the same time. In short what I'm trying to say is that Rounds, as with the other Four-Tet instalments juxtaposes itself in way that doesn't offend but keeps you intrigued and wanting more; a very skilled, and very post modern work, and I look forward to the future of Four-Tet.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 27 May 2003
Fourtet, who is Kieran Hebden from Fridge, follow up the sublime 2001 album Pause with this, Rounds, a more beat-centred, organic affair. If Pause was music to listen to in the park all summer, Rounds is music to sink into the soil below you with, and let the lush sampled melodies take your soul floating towards the slides. The layers of weird noises might sound disjointed on the first few listens, but when the album comes together it blends together as a whole with its beautiful instrumentation flowing and ebbing towards a distant land. Do not hesitate in buying this album, a record which might lead indie fans into a new world of sublime electronic beats.
14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 23 June 2003
Much has already been written about Kieran Hebden's previous output as Four Tet, with descriptions centred on 'pastoral', 'lilting' and the unwieldy tag 'folktronica'. Certainly, there is much that summons up the spirit of woodlands and countryside in his alchemical blend of sampled chimes, strings, guitars and rhythms; this is music for lying in the park on a sunny day. But along with the atmosphere that his music generates, there is another big difference between Four Tet and the majority of electronica / IDM / whatever's digital honk, blatt and skree: that difference is a bedrock in beautiful melodies. And Rounds is full of 'em.
Picking up the template laid down in 2001's Pause, Hebden hammers it into a different shape seemingly at every turn: the 'Neptunes on a banjo' stylings of single She Moves She give way to the life-support machine beats and frozen harps of My Angel Rocks Back and Forth, whilst album centrepiece Unspoken builds and builds into a mini-epic. In all these tunes and across the whole disc, melodies and musical motifs are scurrying around and popping up in unexpected places, circling and blossoming then being overlaid. In places this leads to a dizzying intensity of sound, and whilst Rounds may not have quite the stylistic variety of Pause (nothing as unexpected as No More Mosquitoes, for instance), it pays dividends in terms of consistency. And whilst this could soundtrack the sun rising over rolling hills, it'll also brighten up far more prosaic activities like going to work, or a long train journey, rewarding the listener with music that puts a sparkle into whatever you care to shine it against.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 13 June 2003
There is no doubt about it. Four Tet are an acquired taste. If you like it, you will love it. You don't like it, there probably isn't anything worse to listen to! However, as I do like it, I can thoroughly recommend this third effort from them. The stand out tracks for me are definately "She Moves She" and "As Serious As Your Life" which both have a more uptempo beat than the soothing rest.
There is no doubt that Four Tet are an extremely experimental outfit and you can hear echoes of The Orb, Orbital and even Manitoba through their music. However, this isn't a bad thing and the effects are wonderful.
Don't be mistaken though. This is definitely no "Pause" (their previous release) But buy it and try it and you will be as pleasantly surprised as I was. Sunday afternoons lying in the sun will never be the same again.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 20 June 2006
Wasn't sure if I should get this album or not as the reviews seemed to sway from 'love it' to 'hate it', but I took a chance. I'd never heard anything quite like it and fell in love immediately. The style was familiar enough, but the depth and variety of sounds on the tracks was what made it stand out from the crowd, so to speak. The tentatively haunting beauty of 'Hands' followed by the sure footed kick of 'She moves she' is awsome and sets the mood for all that is to come.
It's not perfect, there are a few 'filler' tracks on here, but the album as a whole sounds beautiful enough, and more importantly different enough to stand out from all the other 'electronic' music out there at the moment.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 12 December 2012
I'm not sure what genre this album would be categorised as these days. I've seen everything from 'glitch' to 'downtempo' to 'folktronica' but whatever you choose, I prefer two simple words: perfect music. For anyone new to this kind of music, I would urge you to listen several times over before making a judgement. It's too easy to hear the distorted sounds and strange glitches and shuffling percussion and wonder, where the hell is the melody?
But the more you listen, the more it slowly, cleverly becomes apparent. You are almost rewarded for your continued listening, with beautiful, melodic, emotive soundscapes, layered over crisp beats that you can nod your head to just as with any good electronica. And with 'Slow Jam' you have one of the best electronic tracks perhaps ever made - sure to bring a tear to even the most hardened heart! This is one of the best albums I've ever heard, I rate it as Four Tet's best too.
3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 6 May 2003
I've only listened to Rounds twice, but already it sounds like a magical progression from 2001's excellent Pause - no way is this 'Four Tet on autopilot'. There's touches of free jazz, folk, ambient and hip hop, but Kieran Hebden has created a distinctive sound for Four Tet that's quite unique. And perhaps unusually for an 'electronica' record, there is a real warmth and optimism about this music. At its best it is delicate and beautiful, like finding a beautiful flower in the middle of a desert!
5 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 14 August 2004
Futuristic but at the same time warm and atmospheric, this album feels like it could have come from anywhere in the next 100 years. It's hard to pinpoint where some of the sounds have come from. They appear to be jumbled and non-descript but are strung together with something approaching genius to create a beautiful collection of tracks. Brilliant.