Review: Confusingly, this is actually the second full-length round up of exclusive tracks from the DJ Kicks mix series (the first, with the same title, was released in 2006). It gathers together notable exclusive tracks from some of the many DJs and producers who've contributed to the series in recent years. It makes for fascinating and enjoyable listening, flitting between sounds and styles at a breakneck pace. Highlights include jazz-flecked deep house from Motor City Drum Ensemble and Henrik Schwarz, dextrous dancefloor jazz from Four Tet, a Hall & Oates impersonation from Chromeo, booming bass music from Scuba and a dash of bleary-eyed New York disco from The Juan MacLean. Oh, and a decidedly bleep-heavy two-step rinse out from Photek & Kru. Check it.
FABRICLIVE 59: Four Tet (continuous DJ mix) - (1:15:19) 129 BPM
Review: The Fabriclive series maintains its fine run of form with Four Tet's eagerly anticipated inclusion into the canon. Stitching together field recordings of the club itself, ambient tracks from Michel Redolfi and David Borden, a selection of lost, dusty UK garage from the likes of Persian and Crazy Bald Heads and recent productions from Burial and Floating Points, it's not so much a DJ set as an impressionistic rendition of Hebden's own memories of clubbing itself. Considering the fact that Hebden's own productions are usually so saturated in melody, it's a relatively dark mix, dominated by murky bass tones and sharp, brittle beats, with a constantly shifting sense of urgency that encourages rapt attention throughout. The stellar mix is capped off with two brand new Four Tet tracks, "Pyramid" and "Locked", which only seek to highlight his growing ability to produce devastating club tracks.
Review: The "Jupiters" remixes are finally available on digital format and this time it's a strictly UK affair, with Happa and Jamie XX on remix duties! Happa's re-interpretation of "Jupiters" is a thumping beast of a track, where a startling bass drum churns its way across a militant percussion - violent hi-hats and snares all round, coated graciously by the most ominous synth stabs to have ever appeared on a Four Tet record! Jamie XX's take on "Lion" is a calmer, sub-heavy parade of swinging drums and mutating bass lines, growing in ferocity with every new bar.
Review: Given that Four Tet's recent 0181 LP was comprised of material from Kieran Hebden's archives, and last year's Pink was largely compiled of tracks from the previous 18 months of 12" releases, it seems fair to say that Beautiful Rewind is his first proper album since 2010's There Is Love In You, and as such, it arrives with some degree of expectation. The past few years have seen the producer engage increasingly with the dancefloor, and these rhythms are most definitely present across the LP, particularly in the jungle breaks of "Kool FM", pirate radio-influenced techno of "Buchla" and hesitant dubstep style rhythms of "Parallel Jalebi". For the most part however Beautiful Rewind is as varied as the likes of Rounds and There Is Love In You, with the minimalist kosmische of "Ba Teaches Yoga", analogue gurgles of "Crush" and dawn chorus sounds of closer "Your Body Feels" all as beautiful as his most enduring tracks.
Review: We're not going to lie - it's always super-exciting when a new Four Tet record drops and even more so when it's been pretty much unannounced. Here, our main man Kieran Hebden has unearthed a collection of jams dating back to the late 90s and early 00s - back in the days of the 0181 greater London telephone code, but these electronic excursions are in no way a reference to the past and in fact, they sound damn near futuristic. In all honesty, this is basically a livejam mix of Hebden's unreleased material, a near 40 minutes of dreamy harmonics and cutting-edge drum breaks, soaring to depths and highs of all sorts - jazzy vibes, peaks of electronica and much more. Giving you a detailed account of the affair just wouldn't do it justice, there's simply too much musical diversity and sonic experimentation right here, but, what we will tell you is that this release contains all the ingredients which make Four Tet's music so brilliant. A must have.
Review: Primarily comprised of previously vinyl-only tracks released by Kieran Hebden on his own Text imprint over the past 18 months, you'd be forgiven for wondering if Pink should be treated as a proper Four Tet album or not. The answer is an emphatic yes; although several of these tracks are more dancefloor focused than we've seen previously, the melodies and textures are unmistakably Hebden. "Locked" for instance has the loose rhythmic structure and bass weight of dubstep but the kind of acoustic textures of his Rounds era material, while "Lion" combines Border Community style minimal techno with the unmistakable Hebden glockenspiel. "Jupiters" experiments with swung garage beats in an unmistakably UK Bass style, while "128 Harps" is a whipcrack MPC workout given his light melodic touch and "Peace On Earth" is a beatless 11 minutes of analogue kosmische. But it's the centrepiece of Hebden's Fabriclive mix, the brilliantly moody "Pyramid", and the loose limbed jazz-house of "Pinnacles" that really set this album apart from his other long-playing efforts, two examples of timeless dance music which demonstrate why after nearly 15 years in the game Hebden is only improving with age.
Review: If you were judging Kieran Hebden's 11th Four Tet studio album merely on the way it's presented, you'd immediately think he'd spent the last two years immersed in early '90s ambient house albums. While it's unlikely he's done that, it's fair to say that New Energy does owe a debt to classic electronica sets from that period. For all the exotic instrumentation and subtle nods to post-dubstep "aquacrunk" experimentalism and chiming, head-in-the-clouds sunrise house, the album feels like a relic of a lost era. That's not meant as a criticism - New Energy is superb - but it is true that his choice of neo-classical strings, gentle new age melodies, sweeping synthesizer chords and disconnected vocal samples would not sound out of place on a Global Communication album.
Review: Released back in August, "Kool FM" was Four Tet's ode to pirate radio and laid down a suitable primer for what to expect from his LP Beautiful Rewind. After the single comes the remix! If you've taken a walk through the content farm, listened to the Hessle Rinse show or seen a Four Tet DJ set in recent months you should be more than familiar with both remixes here. The first remix from Butterz lad Champion is an exercise in simple dancefloor mathematics, implementing the kind of deranged bass line that destroys crowds and demands rewinds. A recent interview with Container revealed the U.S. noise/techno experimentalist to be a big fan of Frak and you can certainly hear their influence on his accompanying remix of "Kool FM" which retains mere remnants of Hebden's original - the distortion from the 2:30 mark onwards is particularly edifying.
Review: On his first new album in three years, Kieron Hebden aka Four Tet proves why he is such a rare talent. Tracks like "School" and "Baby" see him merge ambient and electro-acoustic sounds together with vocal samples and tight dance floor rhythms, while on "Love Birds" he delivers tight drums and melancholic keys. What makes this so impressive is the fact that the dividing line between the organic and the electronic is imperceptible. Of course there is an accessible side to Hebden's style - the effortless warbles of "Teenage Birdsong" and the evocative "Harpsichord" being the stand out tracks - but in the same way that he blends the organic with the synthetic, Four Tet never lets this album dip into rampant commercialism.
Review: Following hot on the heels of the Lindstrom reissue, the Late Night Tales digital remasters series continues with a typically eclectic and atmospheric selection from Four Tet man Kieran Hebden. Like many other Late Night Tales selectors before and since, Hebden used the opportunity to cram in many weird and wonderful choices as possible, digging deep into his impressively left-of-centre record collection. So, we get American classical minimalism from Terry Riley, a smattering of spooky jazz numbers, the psychedelic folk-rock of Manfred Mann and Fairpoint Convention, off-kilter experimental hip-hop from Gravediggaz and Madvillain, and some clicky electronica from Manitoba. Predictably, the included DJ mix joins the dots in fine style.
Review: Apart from Ministry Of Sound and Fabric, the Late Night Tales crew is perhaps the best and most respected compilation series these days. Moreover, these guys have invited some of the biggest names in the game over the last fifteen years, a highly impressive catalogue which includes the likes of Fatboy Slim, Jamiroquai, AIR, Arctic Monkeys, Sly & Robbie, and many more of the same calibre. This September is Germany's Nils Frahm who takes care of the selection, and the DJ/producer serves up a gorgeously vast selection of sounds from around the globe and from all corners of time. Inside, you get shreds of house and techno from Four Tet and Nils Frahm himself, among others, but the mix explores much wider terrains; Miles Davis makes an appearance with the masterful "Concerto De Aranjuez", electronic dub maestros Rhythm & Sound join the party the timeless "Mango Drive", and even Nina Simone's "Who Knows Where The Time Goes" gets selected. It's as excellent and compelling as you would expect from this sublime mix series. A class act.
Review: The Late Night Tales mix series - going strong since way back in 2003 - never ceases to both amaze and please our eardrums when they're in need of a sonic massage. With legendary artists such as Fatboy Slim, Jamiroquai, Groove Armada, MGMT and many others on their roster, you just know it's going to be quality throughout. This time it's up to Domino man Jon Hopkins to give us an outlook onto his own tastes and musical influences. The selection is vast and varied, with everyone from Four Tet to Darkstar and even Peter Broderick featuring within. An incandescent blend of sci-fi electronica, tropical bass nuggets and lighter shades of drone-fuelled house. Quality.
Review: Much like the Fabric mix series, Late Night Tales has been a staple of the British compilation dynasty, and the label has somehow managed to consistently call upon some of the world's biggest and most interesting talents to demonstrate their skills behind the DJ decks, and to give us a tiny view into their tastes and influences. Iceland's Olafur Arnalds, a lo-fi artist who has steadily released nothing but quality on the Erased Tapes label, is asked to do the honours for the catalogu's 44th instelment, and we are seriously digging what this dude is into. Electronica is a bit of a cop-out term to describe this gear, but there is just so much diversity in here that it's simply impossible to categorise it under one roof. Maybe sci-fi electro soul would be a good term, as it manages to capture the mood and feel of these beautiful songs by the likes of Koreless, Jamie XX via Four Tet, Samaris, Arnois, and Arnalds' own music. Spot on once again, Late Night Tales!
Prins Thomas, Stereolab & The High Llamas - "Wrap Your Arms Around Me" (Stereolab vs High Llamas remix) - (4:15) 130 BPM
Prins Thomas & 120 Days - "Sleepless Nights" - (0:22) 124 BPM
Prins Thomas, Carmen Villain, Continental Fruit, Mats Gustafsson & Sonic Youth - "The Moon Will Always Be There/The Moon Was My Only Witness/Art 3 - Contrabass Sax" - (6:16) 92 BPM
Prins Thomas, Erik Wollo, Alexander Rishaug & Sun Araw - "Ody At Sea/Satellites/B - Sun Araw Saddle Soap Remix" - (3:18) 156 BPM
Prins Thomas, Bjorn Torske, Mats Gustafsson, Sonic Youth, Serena-Maneesh & Sun Araw - "B - Sun Araw Saddle Soap Remix/Arthur's Return - Extended Version/Introspection/Leipziger Love Life - Ancient Mix/Part 4 - Voice" - (9:36) 159 BPM
Prins Thomas & Wildest Dreams - "Off The Lip" - (6:21) 112 BPM
Prins Thomas & Four Tet - "Lovesick" (Four Tet remix) - (4:40) 97 BPM