Fridge and Four Tet

(Copyright © 2003 Piero Scaruffi | Terms of use )
Ceefax (1997), 5.5/10
Semaphore (1998), 5.5/10
Four Tet: Dialogue (1999), 6.5/10
Four Tet: Pause (2000), 7/10
Four Tet: Rounds (2003), 7.5/10
Four Tet: Everything Ecstatic (2005), 6.5/10
Fridge: Eph (1999), 6.5/10
Fridge: Happiness (2001), 6.5/10
Adem: Homesongs (2004), 6/10
Adem: Love And Other Planets (2006), 4.5/10
Adem: Takes (2008), 4/10
Four Tet: Everything Ecstatic - Films & Part 2 (2006), 3/10
Kieran Hebden: Exchange Session (2006), 6/10
Kieran Hebden: Tongues (2007), 5/10
Kieran Hebden: NYC (2008), 5/10
Fridge: The Sun (2007), 5/10
Four Tet: There Is Love In You (2010), 6.5/10

Four Tet: Pink (2012)
, 4.5/10
Four Tet: Beautiful Rewind (2013), 5.5/10
Four Tet: Morning / Evening (2015), 6/10
Four Tet: New Energy (2017), 7/10
Four Tet: Sixteen Oceans (2020), 4/10
Four Tet: Parallel (2020), 4.5/10

Fridge is the post-rock project of English multi-instrumentalist Kieran Hebden (also active as Four Tet). Ceefax (Output, 1997), with Robots In Disguise, Semaphore (Output, 1998), with the repetitive Lo-fat Diet and the swinging There Is No Try, and the singles collected on Seven's and Twelve's (Output, 1998) presented a diligent disciple of Tortoise. Fridge was usually the trio of Kieren Hebden, Adem Ihan (also active as Adem) and Sam Jeffers.

Four Tet, Hebden's all-instrumental solo project, debuted with the single Thirtysix Twentyfive (1998), an encyclopedic 36-minute piece comprising a geometric Canterbury-style meditation (a` la Soft Machine or Nucleus), a looping collage of digital noise and beats, an ambient blend of atmospheric guitar tones, tinkling metallic percussion and romantic trumpet, a sudden burst of melodic energy and a coda of found sounds.

The album Dialogue (Output, 1999) capitalized on the idea of electronic ethnic-jazz fusion. The result is certainly elegant, as proven by the smooth ambient jazz-rock of The Space Of Two Weeks and by the sleepy seven-minute Calamine, that calmly displays its syncopated beats and flute calls, but rarely inebriating. The frigidness is rarely challenged. Chiming keyboards, moaning horns and pulsing bass lines barely scratch the surface of Chiron. A bit of percussion frenzy appears in The Butterfly Effect, but it destroys whatever else was in the mix, precisely because the core music of Four Tet tends to be so fragile. There are two pieces that consist of contradictory flows: 3.3 Degrees From The Pole, basically a cacophonous overlap of an African bacchanal and a free-jazz jam, and Aying, a contrast of Middle-Eastern violins and free horns. The ten-minute Fume combines sections of incandescent jamming and sections of looped ambience, both spiced with haunting digital sound effects.

Four Tet also released the 38-minute 0181 (2013), a collection of rarities recorded from between 1997 and 2001, between the first and second album.

Four Tet's Pause (2000) was a better focused and more accessible manifesto of digital folk music than Four Tet's debut. In Glue Of The World delicate guitar melodies intersect syncopated jazzy beats and background noise. After the intrusion of atonal harp-like sounds, the beat mutates into a swampy texture and the melody reappeares with a music-box quality. Minimalist repetition leads the piece to its illogical conclusion. It sounds like This Heat jamming with Mike Oldfield and being remixed by DJ Shadow. Twenty Three is introduced by a guitar motif as frantic metallic percussion blends with the digital beats. A melancholy trumpet melody soars as the guitar recedes. The Eastern influence surfaces in the koto-like aria of Parks, the most "ambient" piece. Harp variations populate the void of Untangle that is scoured by a metronomic beat.
If the first half of the album is sleepy and subdued, the second half wakes up to the drum'n'bass eloquence and quasi-bluegrass guitar of Everything is Alright. No More Mosquitoes is basically a novelty: a child's singalong against a robotic rhythm, aquatic noises and Eastern-tinged strumming. Hilarious Movie Of The 90's toys with the most memorable carillon of the album, a simply melody that is never quite itself but could obviously be catchy if only Hebden wanted it. The minimalist repetition of a harpsichord-like fugue sets the brisk rhythm of the seven-minute You Could Ruin My Day. When the drums finally kick in, the guitar replaces the harpsichord, so that the second part sounds like a (soulful, bouncy) remix of the first part. In fact, all of these compositions sound like remixes of themselves, or, better, remixes of remixes of remixes of... remixes of themselves. Four Tet introduced the art of the permanent remix.

Four Tet's Rounds (Domino, 2003), a more abstract exercise in layering contrasting patterns over unassuming melodies and disappearing rhythms, runs the gamut from one extreme to the other of the spectrum. Hands is a cubistic recombination of rhythmic and melodic elements to the point that there is no recognizable rhythm or melody, just a very tender chaos; while And They All Looked Broken Hearted is spectral jazz-rock for koto; and the nine-minute Unspoken is a series of variations over a melancholy piano ballad. There is, in general, a more vibrant approach, that peaks with the most ebullient pieces: Spirit Fingers, built around cascading toy-like sounds, and the funky As Serious as Your Life. Only the fractured carillon of She Moves She, the lively lullaby My Angel Rocks Back And Forth, permeated with neoclassical echoes, and Slow Jam, reminiscent of Robert Wyatt's pathos and of John Cale's viola drones in the Velvet Underground, continue the "folktronica" of the previous album.
Four Tet had invented a new form of music, one in which minimalism (a very simple and brief melodic fragment is repeated over and over again...) and soundsculpting (...thus the "song" is in the arrangement not in the melody) are one and the same, while digital beats and textures coexist with emotional, personal and intimate art.

In the meantime, Fridge's Eph (Go Beat, 1999 - Temporary Residence, 2002) mirrored Four Tet's experiments in a set of evocative melodies. The delicate guitar movement that emerges from the intense rhythmic activity of Ark leads to a complex clockwork of polyrhythms and drones. Initially, Of sounds like a metaphor for the difficulty in communicating, as distant drumming, assorted percussion, indifferent bass lines and ghostly electronics refuse to interact with each other; but then the electronic organ intones a simple melody that brings everything together. Bad Ischl is a slow march towards a solemn polyphony of guitar, saxophone, violin, electronics and rhythm section, almost a variant on Steve Reich's method of gradual composition. The standout Aphelion capitalizes on these techniques and delivers a dense looping form of ambient music that incorporates dissonance, drumming and sitar as it approaches the moment when the strings rise above the orchestra and wrap the crowded scene in a gentle tide of wails.

Early Output 1996-1998 (Temporary Residence, 2009) collects Fridge's pre-Eph singles and EPs.

Fridge's Happiness (Temporary Residence, 2001) mostly employed minimal dynamics for the purpose of creative song-sculpting. Melodica And Trombone challenged the rules of both chamber music and free jazz, flirting with both forms while layering chaotic percussions and organ drones. A simplified version of this idea is offered by Tone Guitar And Drum Noise, in which a melancholy harmonica melody floats over a stormy sea of percussion. Harkening back to Latin-jazz and minimalist repetition, the 13-minute Drum Machine And Glockenspiels achieved another elegant synthesis. The impression that this is music largely crafted by the rhythm section is increased by Drums Bass Sonics And Edits, whose "sonics and edits" seem to play the role of additional percussion. Less enthralling are instead the two guitar shuffles, nine minutes each: Five Four Child Voice and Long Singing. The title of most magic creation goes to the ten-minute closer, Five Combs, that reverses the relative weight of rhythm and arrangement, with the piano and the (sampled) voice driving the piece to its textural climax in a manner that recalls Robert Ashley's operas.

Fridge's Adem Ilhan released the solo Homesongs (Domino, 2004), a collection of humble bedroom folk-songs that reverberate with the lullabies of Donovan and Leonard Cohen, and compete with those of Sufjan Stevens. Love And Other Planets (2006), however, was mostly a bad imitation of Rufus Wainwright's pop, and Takes (2008) opted for covers.

Kieran Hebden's fourth Four Tet album, Everything Ecstatic (Domino, 2005) marked a turn away from ecstasy and towards tension, as the sound abandoned its gentler side and opted for a darker and heavier edge. Turbulence of a higher sort permeates pretty much every track. The jumping bass lines and clattering cymbals of A Joy escalate to a wall of jarring noise. The industrial dance of High Fives enjoys juxtaposing the celestian tinkling of metallic percussion and some brutal scratching. The quasi-comic minimalist repetition of android synth chirping gets wiped out by a panzer rhythm in Sleep Eat Food Have Visions.
These pieces have to fight with their own nature in order to establish their identity. The music sounds out of control, as if technology finally overran the composer.
Compard with the past, Hebden is relying less on loops because he has mastered a technique of metamorphoses. The digital ballet of Smile Around the Face repeats itself over and over again, but spinning always different nuances. The music flows smoothly. Sun Drums And Soil performs magic, first by unleashing exuberant jazz-psychedelic electronic dance music and then by self-imploding into chaos and cacophony.
The closest thing to a song (and the most obvious departure from the Four Tet canon) is And Then Patterns, whose background noise and steady beats pivot around a distorted pastoral melody and the tender counterpoint of a vibraphone.
Perhaps the relaxed ambient closer You Were There With Me that closes the album is meant as a harbinger of better times.

Four Tet's double-CD Everything Ecstatic - Films & Part 2 (Domino, 2006) is a rip-off that contains some awful films, some remixes and some leftovers.

Kieran Hebden and jazz drummer Steve Reid recorded two volumes of Exchange Session (Domino, 2006), a hypnotic serving of extended jams of electronic free-jazz. Tongues (Domino, 2007), instead, opted for a more concise format of ten short duets. NYC (2008) was a trivial compromise.

Kieren Hebden, Adem Ihan and Sam Jeffers reformed Fridge to record The Sun (Temporary Residence, 2007), another diligent manual of post-rock lacking moments of real excitement.

Hebden convented to electronic dance music with Four Tet's four-song EP Ringer (Domino, 2008), which is devoted to the hypnotic repetitive patterns of Detroit's techno dance music.

In fact, There Is Love In You (Domino, 2010) is a collection of elegant ideas for the dancefloor that are mostly inspired by and built around treated female vocals. The multi-layered approach of Everything Ecstatic is applied with varied results to Angel Echoes, that deconstructs house music, Plastic People, whose dance trance sounds even pastoral and spiritual, especially when the children's choir emerges from the haze of tribal stupor, and the disco single Love Cry, an exuberant series of variations on intergalactic signals that peaks when the rhythm is enhanced by thumping bass lines.
Another front opens with Circling, a Terry Riley-ian minimalist concerto of cascading synth tones. This technique is put to work in the polyrhythmic techno feast Sing, a symphony of bubbling synth tones and female wails against a thumping beat. Hence the bouncing and fluttering polychromatic backdrop to the folkish melody of This Unfolds, which stands as the hippie counterpart to the rave-oriented Love Cry. This album marked the conversion of Four Tet to dance music. His music had incorporated beats from the very beginning but mostly used them as textural elements. Here their role is definitely propulsive.

Four Tet's Fabriclive 59 (Fabric, 2011) is a mediocre mixtape.

Hebden's and Reid's Live at the South Bank (2011) documents Reid just before he died in 2010.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da Jacopo Di Bonaventura)

Fridge è il nome del progetto post-rock del multi-strumentalista inglese Kieran Hebden (attivo anche come Four Tet). Ceefax (output, 1997), con Robots in Disguise, Semaphore (Output, 1998), con la ripetitiva Lo-fat Diet e la vivace There Is No Try, e i singoli raccolti su Seven's and Twelve's (Output, 1998) presentano un diligente discepolo di Tortoise. Fridge è abitualmente il nome del trio Kieran Hebden, Adem Ihan (attivo anche come Adem) e Sam Jeffers.

Four Tet, il progetto strumentale solista di Hebden, debutta con il singolo Thirtysix Twentyfive (1998), un pezzo accademico di 36 minuti che comprende una meditazione geometrica stile Canterbury (alla Soft Machine o Nucleus), un collage ciclico di rumori digtali e battute, percussioni metalliche tintinnanti e trombe romantiche, uno scoppio improvviso di energia melodica e un finale di suoni di sottofondo.

L'album Dialogue (Output, 1999) si concentra sull'idea della fusion elettronica ethnic-jazz. Il risultato è sicuramente elegante, come dimostrato dal raffinato ambient jazz-rock di The Space of Two Weeks e dalla sorniona Calamine da sette minuti, che espone tranquillamente battute sincopate e alti di flauto, raramente inebrianti. La freddezza viene scomposta raramente. Le tastiere armoniose, i corni lamentevoli e le pulsanti linee di basso scalfiscono a malapena la superficie di Chiron. Una leggera frenesia nelle percussioni appare in The Butterfly Effect, ma essa distrugge il resto presente nel mix, proprio perché il nucleo della musica di Four Tet tende ad essere molto fragile. Vi sono due pezzi composti da flussi contraddittori: 3.3 Degrees from the Pole, praticamente una cacofonica sovrapposizione di un baccanale africano e una jam session free-jazz, e Aying, un contrasto di violini mediorientali e corni in libertà. Fume, di dieci minuti, combina frangenti di improvvisazioni incandescenti e atmosfere cicliche, sapientemente impreziositi da ammalianti effetti digitali.

Pause (2000) è un manifesto della musica digital folk meglio determinato e più accessibile rispetto all'album debutto di Four Tet. In Glue of the World delicate melodie di chitarra si intersecano con ritmi jazz sincopati e rumori di sottofondo. Dopo l'intrusione di suoni atonali stile arpa, la battuta si trasforma in una trama acquitrinosa, e la melodia rifà capolino con una qualità da carillon. La ripetitività minimalista conduce il brano alla sua illogica conclusione. Suona come i This Heat in jamming con Mike Oldfield e remixati da DJ Shadow. Twenty Three è introdotta da un motivo frenetico di percussioni metalliche miste a beat digitali. Una malinconica melodia di tromba si solleva mentre la chitarra si ritira. L'influenza orientale riaffiora nell'aria stile koto di Parks, sicuramente il pezzo più “ambient” dell'album. Le variazioni sull'arpa popolano la vacuità di Untangle, strofinata da un ritmo da metronomo.

Se la prima metà dell'album è pacata, assonnata, la seconda metà si sveglia con il linguaggio drum 'n bass e quasi-bluegrass di Everything Is Alright. No More Mosquitos è praticamente una novità: un ritornello infantile contrapposto ad un ritmo robotico, suoni equorei e strimpelli tinteggiati alla Orientale. Hilarious Movie of the 90's giocherella con il carillon più glorioso dell'album, una melodia semplice che in verità semplice non è, e che sarebbe molto più orecchiabile se solo Hebden lo volesse. La ripetitività minimalista di una fuga stile clavicembalo imposta il ritmo vivace di You Could Ruin My Day, lunga sette minuti. Quando intervengono finalmente le percussioni, la chitarra rimpiazza il clavicembalo, risultando in un remix dinamico e profondo della prima parte. Anzi, tutte queste composizioni suonano come remix di sé stesse, o meglio, remix di remix di remix... di sé stesse. Four Tet ha introdotto l'arte del remix perpetuo.

Rounds (Domino 2003), un esercizio più astratto nel comporre modelli contrastanti su melodie modeste e ritmi sfuggenti, ripercorre la successione da un estremo all'altro. Hands è una ricompattazione cubista di elementi ritmici e melodici al punto che non vi è più ritmo o melodia riconoscibile, solamente un caos molto delicato; mentre And They All Looked Broken Hearted è un jazz-rock spettrale per il koto; e i nove minuti di Unspoken una serie di variazioni su una malinconica ballata da pianoforte. E' presente, in linea generale, un approccio più vibrante, che culmina nei brani più entusiastici: Spirit Fingers, costruita attorno ad una cascata di suoni di giocattoli, e la funky As Serious As Your Life. Solamente il carillon inframezzato di She Moves She, la vivace ninnananna di My Angel Rocks Back and Forth, permeata di echi neoclassici, e Slow Jam, echeggiante il pathos di Robert Wyatt e i bordoni di viola di John Cale coi Velvet Underground, continuano la “folktronica” dell'album precedente. Four Tet ha inventato una nuova forma di musica, nella quale il minimalismo (un campione molto semplice e melodico viene ripetuto ad oltranza) e la composizione del suono (...quindi la “canzone” è nell'arrangiamento, non nella melodia) sono una cosa sola, mentre i beat e le strutture digitali coesistono con l'arte emotiva, personale, intima.

Nel frattempo, Eph dei Fridge (Go Beat, 1999 – Temporary Residence, 2002) riflette gli esperimenti di Four Tet con una raccolta di melodie evocative. Il delicato muoversi della chitarra che emerge dall'intensa attività ritmica di Ark conduce ad un complesso meccanismo di poliritmie e bordoni. Inizialmente Of suona come una metafora della difficoltà comunicativa, come se la batteria distante, le percussioni eterogenee, le linee di basso indifferenti e la spettrale elettronica si rifiutassero di interagire; ma dopo l'organo elettrico intona una semplice melodia che ricompatta il tutto. Bad Ischl è una lenta marcia verso una solenne polifonia di chitarra, sassofono, violino, elettronica e tratti ritmati, quasi una variante del metodo di composizione graduale che fu di Steve Reich. La più pronunciata Aphelion capitalizza queste tecniche e produce una spessa forma in looping di musica ambient che incorpora dissonanze, batteria e sitar mano a mano che si avvicina il momento in cui gli archi si sollevano alti sull'orchestra e avvolgono l'affollato scenario con una delicata ondata di vagiti.

Early Output 1996-1998 (Temporary Residence, 2009) raccoglie i singoli e gli EP dei Fridge anteriori a Eph.

Happiness (Temporary Residence, 2001) impiega prevalentemente dinamiche minimal allo scopo della costruzione del sound creativo. Melodica and Trombone sfida sia le leggi della musica da camera che del jazz, flirtando con entrambe mentre descrive percussioni caotiche e bordoni d'organo. Una versione semplificata di quest'idea è presentata da Tone Guitar and Drum Noise, nella quale una melanconica melodia d'armonica veleggia su un tempestoso mare di batteria. Onorando il Latin-jazz e la ripetitività minimal, i tredici minuti di Drum Machine and Glockenspiels raggiungono un'altra sintesi elegante. L'impressione che questa musica sia fortemente imperniata sulle sezioni ritmiche aumenta con Drums Bass Sonics and Edits, i quali sonori e edit sembrano giocare il ruolo di batterie aggiuntive. Meno affascinanti sono invece i due swing di chitarra da nove minuti ciascuno Five Four Child Voice e Long Singing. Il titolo di creazione più magica va invece alla finale di dieci minuti Five Combs, che inverte il relativo peso del ritmo e dell'arrangiamento, con il pianoforte e la voce (campionata) che conducono il brano al suo climax strutturale in un modo che richiama le opere di Richard Ashley.

Adem Ilhan dei Fridge pubblica il solista Homesongs (Domino, 2004), una collezione di modeste canzoni folk da camera che riecheggiano le cantilene di Donovan e Leonard Cohen, e competono con quelle di Sufjan Stevens. Love and Other Planets (2006) tuttavia, è perlopiù una cattiva imitazione del pop di Rufus Wainwright, mentre Takes (2008) opta per delle cover.

Il quarto album Four Tet di Kieran Hebden, Everything Ecstatic (Domino, 2005) segna il passaggio lontano dall'estasi verso la tensione: il sound abbandona il lato morbido per un aspetto più dark e impegnativo. La turbolenza pervade pressapoco ogni pezzo. Le linee di basso sussultorie e lo sferragliante cembalo di A Joy scalano un muro di rumore stridente. L'industrial dance di High Fives sfrutta la giustapposizione del celestiale tintinnio delle percussioni metalliche e di brutali raschiature. Il ripetersi minimal semi-comico del cinguettio synth robotico viene spazzato via da un ritmo da panzer in Sleep Eat Food Have Visions.

Tali brani devono confrontarsi con la loro stessa natura per stabilire la loro identità. La musica sembra fuori controllo, come se alla fine la tecnologia avesse preso il sopravvento sul compositore.

Rispetto al passato, Hebden si affida meno ai loop poiché domina ora la tecnica della metamorfosi. Il balletto digitale di Smile Around the Face si ripete ciclicamente, ma sempre portando sfumature differenti. La musica fluisce dolcemente. Sun Dreams and Soil mette in scena la magia, prima scatenando un'esuberante psichedelia jazz elettronica dance, per poi implodere nella baraonda e nella cacofonia.

Quello che più si avvicina ad una canzone (e dunque il distacco più palese dal canone Four Tet) è And Then Patterns, il cui sottofondo e le battute progressive girano attorno ad una melodia pastorale distorta ed un delicato contrappunto di vibrafono. Forse l'ambient rilassato della You Were There with Me che chiude l'album è concepita come l'araldo di tempi migliori.

Il doppio CD di Four Tet Everything Ecstatic – Films & Part 2 (Domino, 2006) è una bidonata che contiene qualche orrendo film, dei remix e qualche avanzo.

Kieran Hebden e il batterista jazz Steve Reid incidono due volumi di Exchange Session (Domino, 2006), una mescita ipnotica di jam estesi e free-jazz elettronico. Tongues (Domino, 2007) invece, opta per un modello più conciso di dieci duetti. NYC (2008) è un trascurabile compromesso.

Kieran Hebden, Adem Ihan e Sam Jeffers riformano i Fridge per incidere The Sun (Temporary Residence, 2007), un altro diligente manuale post-rock privo di momenti di vera emozione.

L'EP di Four Tet Ringer (Domino, 2008) comprende quattro brani fedeli ai modelli ipnotici e ripetitivi della musica techno di Detroit.

There Is Love in You (Domino, 2010) è una collezione di idee eleganti prevalentemente ispirate e costruite attorno a voci femminili trattate. L'approccio multi-livello di Everything Ecstatic è applicato con risultati alterni su Angel Echoes, che demolisce la musica house; Plastic People, la cui trance suona pastorale o addirittura spirituale, specialmente quando il coro di bambini affiora dalla nube di stupore tribale, e il singolo del disco Love Cry, un'entusiastica serie di variazioni su segnali intergalattici che si acuisce quando il ritmo è rinforzato dai bassi martellanti. Un altro fronte viene aperto con Circling, un concerto minimal Terry Riley-iano di tonalità synth a cascata. Tale tecnica viene utilizzata nel banchetto di techno poliritmica Sing, una sinfonia di gorgoglianti toni synth e gorgheggi femminili contro un sordo beat. Da qui il fondale policromatico pimpante, volteggiante alla melodia folkeggiante di This Unfolds, che rappresenta il contraltare hippie a Love Cry, orientata verso i rave. Questo album segna la conversione di Four Tet alla musica dance. La sua musica ha incorporato beat fin da subito ma li ha usati prevalentemente come elementi strutturali. Qui il loro ruolo è sicuramente propulsivo.

Fabriclive 59 (2011) è un mixtape mediocre.

Live at the South Bank (2011) di Hebden e Reid documenta Reid proprio prima della sua morte nel 2010.

Pink (Hostess Entertainment Unlimited, 2012) collects Four Tet dance singles and two new pieces. This is mostly trivial techno and house. The eight-minute Locked boasts an angelic guitar solo that pops up every now and then over a bubbling texture and an intricate beat, and the eight-minute Pinnacles (the standout) is a lively jungle-flavored funk-jazz jam littered with neurotic piano and guitar sounds. But the nine-minute Lion (a new piece) is a mechanical repetition of a 2-step beat that any teenager can realize, and the eight-minute Pyramid feels like an amateurish implementation of house-music stereotypes. The eleven-minute Peace For Earth (the other new piece) is a pulsing slab of chill-out ambient house performed on vintage electronic keyboards: it would be a bonus track on most albums of electronic dance music, but here it's the second standout.

Beautiful Rewind (Text, 2013) confirmed that Four Tet's shift towards the dancefloor was not only episodic, and in fact codified in de-facto manifestos such as Gong, with its unlikely blend of 160-bpm jungle drumming and psychedelic gamelan, and Kool FM, that tried to bridge two eras of electronic dancing (grime and drum'n'bass). The best result of his reinterpretation of drum'n'bass comes in the cubistic cha-cha ballet for ensemble of clockworks Aerial. There is however an alter-ego at work, an alter-ego who is more interested in generating trance via Brian Eno-esque compositions: the cryptic vignette Crush, the broken carillon of Ba Teaches Yoga, the minimalist saxophone of Your Body Feels, and the anemic pulsation of Parallel Jalebi that seems about to die at every beat. These Eno-esque tracks are the ones that benefit the most from Hebden's newly found passion for sparkling synthesizer tones. If the dance record fails, this impressionistic record at least gives hope.

Morning / Evening (Text, 2015) contains two lengthy Four Tet pieces, the first time that Hebden has opted for that format. Morning Side (20:24) opens with a sleepy two-step rhythm over which Hebden lays an even more sleepy sample of Lata Mangeshkar's Hindi-language song Main Teri Chhoti Behana Hoon (from the soundtrack of Sawan Kumar Tak's 1983 film Souten). Needless to say, the song feels like a trance-y psychedelic soundtrack, as the vocal tracks slowly dissipates into a mellow viscous lake of arpeggiated synths. For 12 minutes Evening Side (19:53) indulges in meditative new-age music for floating tinkling synths, reverbed drones and muffled female humming, but then plunges into a weird coda of chugging industrial beats. These juggernauts, that basically extend the intuitions of the Brian Eno-esque compositions on the previous album, don't amount to much in the world of ambient music but explore the genre from a novel perspective.

Hebden opted for the serene trance Evening as the fundamental mode of Four Tet's New Energy (Text, 2017), but a trance this time coupled with small miracles of audio engineering. The best example is the way he combines the three elements that support each other in Two Thousand and Seventeen: a drowsy industrial beat, a solemn funereal organ drone, and a strong melody played by a zither-like instrument that sounds like played by a vintage clock's escapement. The seven-minute Planet deserves a standing ovation too for the way it grafts drowsy female vocals onto a robotic garage beat in a landscape of bubbling pastoral synthesizers and droning psychedelic explosions while stringed instruments strum a Mediterranean melody at an extremely slow pace. The eight-minute SW9 9SL starts with a slow-motion cycle of weak beats but keeps reshaping them until they grow into a similar nostalgic lullaby and then morphs them into an ominous zombie dance with funk-jazz organ notes. The way Scientists metabolizes its distorted elongated female laments is no less sophisticated, worthy of Monet's impressionism. Meanwhile, abstract surrealistic vignettes like LA Trance, Memories and You Are Loved sound more like Aphex Twin than Four Tet. There is very little energy to be found on New Energy but there is definitely a new kind of energy. Possibly his best album since Rounds (2003).

Four Tet's Sixteen Oceans (2020) is instead a shameful approximation of music, a hodgepodge of trivial ideas of ambient, microhouse and synth-pop (the single Teenage Birdsong). Not only trivial but also monotonous. Parallel (2020) contains the 26-minute ambient composition Parallel 1 for synth drones and found sounds (not exactly groundbreaking) and nine shorter untitled downtempo pieces. In between these two albums Hebden also released 871 (2020), containing archival material, and an EP under his Indecipherable Wingdings moniker.

(Translation by/ Tradotto da xxx)

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