Four Tet aka Kieran Hebden needs little introduction- he is a true trendsetter of all electronic music. Having influenced perhaps an entire decade of musicians, collaborating with/remixing everyone under the sun to and having a myriad of superb records he has definitely made an impact. His endless back catalogue speaks for itself and I amongst many others am always keen to see what direction he will skew into next. In the past he has revealed a pretty much universal capability to make anything he wanted to make. From the childish joy of smile around the face, to the celebrated rounds and the recent anthemic there is love in you he has defied many a genre.
The news of an up-coming offering then leaves us pondering. He has genuinely done music. What is left? Personally I would want more endless loops via collaboration with Burial but that one will unfortunately be doomed to a one off. So with great anticipation I dive into the unknown, into Pink. Of course I have heard “Jupiters” and “Pinnacle” via the internet and have some idea of what is in store, but the rest remains a mystery.
The album starts with “Locked”, a disjointed drum beat rattles in reciprocated by bouncy bass. Then as some may anticipate, some ambient filter guitar and the catchiest little riff you could ever hope for. But then unexpectedly some minor dub-step influence. Whether this is to your taste or not it seems to work eventually becoming entwined with some pan flute. This sequence then perfectly layers with the previous riff and guitar sample. “Locked” becomes a triumphant looping of a perhaps unexpected selection of sounds. Some beautiful stings then bring the opener to a climax at a mere 6 minutes in. You wouldn’t be mistaken for feeling some nostalgia creep in after this first song. The song ends with some rolling oboe-esque synth and leads on to “Lion”.
“Lion” seems dancier from the outset, with great hats, great blips and distinguished bass. This tune seems a return to more recent musings perhaps. With a slight shuffle of instruments the song slowly builds momentum and vibrancy. With a hint of sample and synth the song slowly rises. A great atmosphere is carved and a dizzying height achieved. The song contains odd moments of out of sync snare. I am undecided as to whether this is Kierans intention or not. It doesn’t detract from the song, but I’m not sure as to what I am gaining from it. Nearer the end some more strange samples break up the song momentarily only to be complimented by some looping thumb harp. A return to many a surprisingly moving instrumental of one of Four Tets more dated songs. As the song ends you realises just how good that thumb harp loop actually is.
The next song I have listened to over and over again and is an absolute triumph. “Jupiters” creates an immense mood and feel and offers a sultry and pounding percussion. The song starts with a fairly aggressively, fairly arrhythmic looped synth. A synth that slowly builds to a warbling mess leading to a bit-tune esque rising blip loop. What happens now is my favourite thing ever. The combination of low grimey bass and dance 4/4 is perfect. The occasional upwards octave shifts keep the song progressing and interesting. The introduction of the initial synth makes you realise how well planned the song is. The simple but effective vocal creates an epic climax. At the end as promised the drum beat and superb bass continue.
“Ocoras” on the other-had offers a different aesthetic. I am currently left unsure as to the genre or description of what is going on. It reminds me of the field a lot. When the beat comes in things start to make a bit more sense. Everything becomes synchronised and pleasing. The odd sample chimes in, and the song keeps on its housey path. With some strange bells and builds we continue to see an experimental dynamic. This song would kill it at five in the morning in a muddy field. A nice loop comes in eventually and creates some solidarity, even if only momentarily.
The next tune “128 harps” promises something more. An awesome drum beat coupled with sucky bass and infinitely rolling hats creates a distinctly hip-hop feel. The vocal sample and 90s harp riff that comes in is further evidence of this. At the break Hebdan allows us to hear the production brilliance of the harp sample and just how well it fits with the drum kit. Enamoured we continue into a surprisingly emotional and mysterious song. Later some beautiful arps rise up and continue to build a song you hope will never end.
With “Pyramid” I feel like I’m watching beyond the Black Rainbow. A great 80s aesthetic with a dark sultry vibe. A brilliant bassline and vocal mashup promises a vibe i can barely comprehend. The drum beat comes in slightly unexpectedly but works well. The song then drops slap bang into the 90s as the drone cuts and the vocals change. Further on a change in bass occurs, a standard loop as far as this album is concerned. But it short lived and the great bass is allowed to loop alone. The riff and aforementioned bass come in again later and produce a nice ambience. Not Hebdans most creative work but definitely well thought out and danceable.
“Peace for earth” is sci-fi from the word go. I don’t know if it is ironic or not, it seems chopsy as fuck. Could be the star trek theme until the bass and some anthemic arp comes in. somehow the synths make it seem less ridiculous. The previous irony washed away by a potential for something actually feasible. I don’t know. I would like to say there was no ulterior motive to this tune. But if I was high this tune would be making me all sorts of feels. It is optimistic, epic and vibrant and beat-less. Peace for earth is a true break in pace in an otherwise heavy, dancey album. Expectedly the song turns into a cacophony of blips and dips that loop for an unreasonable amount of time. Confirming the sci-fi/love aesthetic and the albums distinct reference to a lost era this song reaches a bizarre climax.
Finally then we have “Pinnacles”. I don’t know what to expect anymore. I am emotionally drained. But just as I am nodding off in my chair I am picked up by a funky drum beat and some grooving bass. I did not anticipate this level of awesome so near the end of a packed album. It filters, it has weird noises, it’s fucking great. The bass-line will captivate anyone, seriously where did this come from. When the kick comes in you have to nod your head. What a superbly innovative vibe somehow manufactured from a collection of crazy samples. Almost as if inevitable some awesome jazz piano chimes in and the song makes promises of more funk to come. The album ends then on the kick, some left other scratchy hats, some nice synth and some epic reverb which grinds down to just one catchy synth line.
This record is excellent and gives a full scope of Hebdens abilities. It proves not only that there is life in the old dog but that he’s not an old dog. From his first release back in ’99 it seems he can only get better. I don’t know if it’s because I am a fan or not but I am certain that he will carry on making great music for more years to come. Four tet has given us Pink to boogie too and to draw inspiration from in these early Teenies.
As for releases a quote from Four Tets website “I have been releasing a few vinyl only singles over the last year or so and this album called Pink brings together those tracks. It will be released on the 20th August as a digital release on my Text label and there will also be a CD release in Japan through Hostess Entertainment on the 22nd August. Two of the tracks, Lion and Peace For Earth, have not been released on vinyl yet but I plan to make that happen one day.”
Available now on Boomkat.