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4.0 out of 5 stars
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on 16 April 2009
I was once quite seasonally adjusted when it came to music. Spring and summer inspired me to listen to more notionally natural textures - let's say alt-country, Americana or folk - while the onset of winter used to find me needing something more machine-driven. In recent years I've been rather unfaithful to electronica, having flirted provocatively with other music forms. I may have even said somewhere on this site that electronica is dead. Well, fool me. Recent albums by Fever Ray and worriedaboutsatan have got me all excited about the possibilities of electronic music again, and completely out of season too. In order to catch up a bit, I've just ordered Boards of Canada's `Campfire Headphase' and now Four Tet's 2008 EP `Ringer', admittedly both happy compromises on my seasonal requirements given the preponderance of `organic' textures in both.

`Ringer' was hyped as a trend-bucking statement of intent by Kieren Hebden, given that the eponymous eight-minute track has Orbital written all over it, making it less easily to categorise as folktronica, a term he is known to hate. But for all the propulsiveness and glimmering synths, there is a hint of Glastonbury `93 about `Ringer' that gives it a whiff of the bucolic. If `Ringer' is a homage to the Hartnoll brothers then the other three tracks that comprise the EP explore looser, jazzier territory: there is the suggestion of the semi-improvised grooves that Hebden has been utilising to increasingly impressive effect on his Steve Reid collaborations. If you like this, you certainly should check out 2008 collaboration `NYC'. I particularly enjoy listening to these unhurried mood pieces as an antidotal soundtrack to a trip to Carrefour, an Analgoue Bubblebath for the brain.
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VINE VOICEon 6 May 2008
after the joyous explosion that was 'Everything Ecstatic' and various recordings made with jazz drummer Steve Reid, it was a safe bet to say that wherever Kieran took us next it certainly wouldn't be predictable. Hearing this latest ep/mini-album still comes as something of a surprise though...there are unmistakable bursts of that Four Tet sound, in particular the jazz tinged percussions that put you in mind of old Alice Coltrane or Pharoah Sanders albums...but largely 'Ringer' marks a leap back in time by Kieran to an era when IDM was at its peak.
so, how does it sound? rather bloody good actually!! the title track is the standout, building slowly and subtley on ambient waves that take the listener well past the 5 minute mark until it peaks with some heavy drumming. it's a track you lie down to and lose yourself in. after that, there's nothing quite as immediate but it's all still entrancing none the less. Swimmer massages the brain gently and actually puts me in mind of early Seefeel recordings, it has that same lovely chiming vibe to it...Wing Body Wings gurgles blissful beats and manages to make its drums sound wrapped in cotton wool.
all in all well worth £5 of your hard earned cash, and a surprising, interesting and above all enjoyable diversion on the increasingly unpredicatble path Four Tet's traversing!
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on 2 March 2010
On Ringer, a generously portioned EP, Hebden dials back his frenetic eclecticism, instead turning out ambitious yet danceable techno. And not unlike a Towers of Asia record, it's a hugely rewarding and interesting listen.
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