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: 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.
Crimea X - "Yev" (Prins Thomas Diskomiks remix) - (6:01) 122 BPM
Crimea X - "Dream Is Gone" (Prins Thomas Diskomiks remix) - (6:26) 122 BPM
Jagwar Ma - "Four" - (6:33) 129 BPM
Sandrien - "Haters" - (9:37) 126 BPM
Review: By now, we should all know what to expect from both the Balance series and Danny Howells, namely slick, atmospheric, spine-tingling electronic music of both an uptempo and downbeat bent. This bumper digital version of his latest double CD mix features some exceptionally good tracks, from the exotic, psychedelic techno of Will Saul and October's rework of Michael Mayer's "Mantasy" and the evocative Balearic deep house of Joakim's "Another Light", to the dreamy fluidity of Matthias Voigt's remix of Ian Pooley's "I Got You", and the crystalline electronics and wide-eyed beauty of Maricopa's ambient delight "Neon Shoals". It is, then, a sizzling hot collection of evocative electronic music for dancers and dreamers. Don't sleep.
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: 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: 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: 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: 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.
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.