Four Tet Four TetPink
Four Tet’s label, Text Records, has played a fundamental role in his shift from the IDM-downtempo scene to dance music. Like Kieran Hebden’s own career, the label’s progress looks more like a long-distance race than a sprint. Although the platform’s first release dates back to 2001, in 2009 Text underwent a sort of rechristening with the release of the single “Moth / Wolf Cub” by Burial and Four Tet himself. Those two cuts, especially the glorious “Moth”, were the seed that flowered into the sound that later dominated the celebrated “There Is Love In You” (Domino, 2010); dance rhythms with padded edges, ecstatic melodies and plenty of misty emotion.
Starting from those coordinates, Hebden has been holed up in Text for the last two years, leading to the label’s most fertile period since its founding. From the safety of a home of his own, he has been able to delve into his own vision of dance music with four releases in which one senses a search for new trails to blaze, we imagine with an eye to a new long work. “Pink” takes up this path, at the same time allowing Hebden’s followers who don’t buy records to participate by taking home material that so far had only been available on black vinyl.
For those who had been following Four Tet regularly, the only surprise factor lies in the twenty-something minutes filled by the two previously-unreleased compositions included in the collection, “Lion” and “Peace Of Earth”. The first combines recurring elements in his sound, like melodies with an African flavour, in this case kalimba, with other less habitual ones, such as rhythms from vintage analogue drum-machines, all wrapped up in gloomy, disturbing atmospheres. “Peace Of Earth”, starts out with rippling cottony pads and ends up sliding into one of his characteristic arpeggios of sparkling, dampened sound, all seen through the mirror of 70s cosmic ambient. The contrast between these two cuts corroborates one of the ideas given off by “Pink”: in spite of having definitively embraced the danceable side of electronica, Hebden is still always a highly versatile producer, who navigates genres like Krautrock, jazz, hip hop and techno without ever losing his centre of gravity. In general terms, his latest productions can be divided into two main groups: those that move ahead with a classic 4x4 drum beat ( “Ocoras”, “Pyramid”, “Pinnacles”) and those that are driven by broken, syncopated rhythms ( “Locked”, “Jupiters”, “128 Harps”). In the middle, there is an ocean of details that find common denominators; constructing a personal language in the sampling of organic instrumentation, in the contrast between the roughness of the bass and rhythms and the delicacy of melodies alongside the search for narcotic weightlessness. That is another of the major truths made evident in this compilation: this personal language is revealed to be unmistakeable. From the guitars in “Locked” to the harp in “128 Harps”, from the cosmic synthesizers in “Jupiters” to the underwater chords in “Ocoras” and the house drive of “Pyramid” to the breezy jazz of “Pinnacles”, everything ends up channelled into the crystallisation of a vision that, unlike the vaporous textures and psychedelic lines that one usually makes out, is always perfectly in focus. This vision has definitely become one of the most significant in current electronica. Those who had the vinyls were probably already aware of this, but listening to these eight cuts together and all in one go, the verdict is not open to appeal: Four Tet is worth his weight in gold.