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Not A Patch On 'Rounds'.
on 1 February 2010
All the way back in 2003 London born Kieran Hebden released the wondeful album 'Rounds' under his alias Four Tet. It was a remarkble record from the former member of Fridge and it paved the way for many other 'Folk-tronica' albums to be released(checkout 'Homesongs' by Adem for another example of how this music is best performed). Since then he has released the luke-warm 2005 album 'Everything Ecstatic', the decent e.p 'Ringer' in 2008 and various rewarding collabarations with jazz drummer Steve Reid and dubstep legend Burial. This is his fifth album under the name Four Tet and is mainly reliable & comfortable but with flashes of the greatness that he is certainly capable of.
The album starts with the quite frankly unremarkable 'Angel Echoes' in which over a fairly simple beat we hear a female voice repeat the name of the album over and over again, it does have a certain beauty in it's simpleness and that would be fine if the rest of the record was'nt otherwise cosy and over-familiar. Songs such as 'Circling' and 'Reversing' are equally unremarkable and seem to sit too much within Hebden's comfort zone to ever stir any emotion or make you seriously stand up and take any notice. This may be seen as heresy by some, but I don't really care all that much for the 9 minute single 'Love Cry' either, it would certainly be one of the weaker tracks off the aforementioned masterpeice 'Rounds'.
Well thats the bad bit out of the way and up to this point it may seem that I have a real dislike for the record, that is not the case. The double shot that is tracks 5 & 6 ('Sing' and 'This Unfolds' respectivly) are superb additions to hebden's catalouge. The former sounds like a club classic being played backwards with a wonderful little guitar lick in the centre and lots of weird voices appearing from out the dark. 'This Unfolds' is quite simply Four Tet at his finest with a mesmerising, droning drum beat layered with a lonely guitar and weird keyboard noises, it all combines to create a wonderful 8 minutes of dream-like music. Sadly Hebden leaves maybe the albums strongest song to last. 'She Just Likes To Fight' is music to be listened to with big headphones and to lose youself within. it comes across a little like a slow paced Mogwai track but there is so much going on underneath the main beats it's a struggle to appreciate it in your first sitting, I especially love the synths that appear with about a minute and a half remaining.
So in summary I'd say this is a reliable, comfy and sometimes inspired release from the Londoner, I just hope that he goes away and comes back in a year or two with an album to really challenge the supremecy of 'Rounds', now that would be something to cherish.