A really wonderful album. The jazzy beats are perfectly judged to drive the tracks along without being overpowering. The acoustic guitars are simply lovely, and what makes this album really stick out above a lot of others in the genre is the musical quality. You never feel that anything has been done just to say 'look how clever i am', but has been chosen because it will sound not just right but absolutely perfect without being boringly predictable. That's not to say that it's not technically accomplished, because it is, and some of the samples are ingenious, but that is not the ultimate aim of it. Just buy this.
This years summer electronica album, Pause works in much the same way that Music Has the Right to Children did two years ago; providing blissed out and hypnotic brain-dance for jaded clubbers. But where as Boards managed to make the standard synth-and-samples ambience sound strangely organic, here Four Tet manages to make folk instrumentation (that's right rock fans, real instruments) collude perfectly with hip-hop rhythms and snaking jazz basslines. Like the first album, jazz and eastern influences pervade but it is the acoustic guitars, harps and bongos, the flavours of folk and new-age, that define the sound, and give it the summery feel. Relaxing, inventive and compulsive, this is also the closest 'machine music' will ever get to nature.
Back in 1996, Putney, South London, was the scene of the birth of post-rock experimentalists Fridge, brainchild of Kieran Hebden, Adem Ilham and Sam Jeffers. With a distinctive blend of guitars and electronic, the band established themselves very quickly on the music scene, receiving critical acclaim for their three albums and numerous Eps. However, Kieran Hebden started releasing his own material from 1997, under the Four Tet guise. After a string of 12" and a first album, Dialogue, released in 1999, at the tender age of 21, he is back with his second album, Pause. After touring with Fridge, as Badly Drawn Boy's live support band, remixing people as diverse as Aphex Twin, The Cinematic Orchestra or the µ-ziq/Speedy J Slag Boom Van Loon project, Hebden escaped the British weather for a while. Spotted in Toronto exchanging ideas with Manitoba's Dan Snaith, he quietly put the finishing touch to Pause, before joining his mates to record the forthcoming Fridge album, Happiness, due to be released on Hebden's own Text Records imprint. Obviously drawing experience from his work with Fridge, Hebden offers with Pause a somehow very different side of his inspiration. Guitars are here simple particles in a much bigger picture, only providing a sound base for his genuinely cooling melodies. All along, the album reminds of Manitoba's slick ambiences. However, Pause is more constrained than Start Breaking My Heart. There aren't any excursions into wild sonic soundscapes here, as Hebden remains in more conventional surroundings than his Canadian counterpart. This doesn't mean however that Pause is an album to ignore as he creates some gentle, melodic, atmospheres, with astonishing ease. The guitar-breeze over Glue Of The World, Everything Is Alright or You Could Ruin My Day cools down the burning bites of the sun. If not a revolutionary record, Pause is clever enough to grab the attention of the listener and not let go. Four Tet is more than a side project for Kieran Hebden, as he continues to explore the realms of electronic music.
For a side project, 'Pause' certainly takes some beating. Kieran Hebden here melds programmed beats with flashes of guitar and harp to create a genre almost entirely of his own, and it's to his immense credit that, despite inventing a formula and sticking to it, 'Pause' never bores over its lush and expansive 43 minutes. Probably its best-known track - the mantra-like 'No More Mosquitos' - is also arguably the weakest, which says something for the high-water mark that Hebden sets himself on this record. An album that demands to be listened to a whole, and then again, and again - 'Pause' is nothing short of wondrous.
Some of this album is fairly conventional, though nice, hip hop-electronica material - the "No More Mosquitoes" track for example. Other sections of it are a bit self-indulgent - one-minute tracks that just have some rattling and a disembodied melody. But some of this album really _is_ genius, like the man says in the synopsis at the top of this page. "Parks" and "Untangle" do it for me: the one a really unusually moving bit of breakbeat melodica, the other a mad, subtle, beautifully-tailored mix of harp and spliced-up "4 to the floor" beats. So I've given it 5 stars, cos even the lesser stuff is great, while the stand-out stuff stands above just about every other artist in this genre.
Four Tet's strength is how effortlessly human his electronic loops and samples sound. Occasionally meandering, the choice of sounds for collation in the album keep the ear interested throughout often minimal constructions.
Okay, I'm a little late to this particular party. But this album is superb and I have to tell it like it is. Warm, intimate, melodic always, comforting, HUMAN music. Often quite downtempo and late night, occassionally dubby and getting into real grooves. One of the best albums ever heard!
I'm a recent convert to Four Tet and now one of his biggest fans. As far as electronic music goes, the second album, Rounds, is simply a masterpiece and I'm glad to report that 'Pause' is equally good. There's the same beautiful, languid acoustic sounds, rich, warm electronic soundscapes and catchy, glitchy, clever percussion and I'm amazed this is 10 years old as it sounds as fresh as if it were produced today.
'Rounds' edges it for me but this is still a must buy and it's far better than any of the following albums, which lack the soul of these early works. 'Parks' in particular, is a memorable track which will live long on my playlists.