Release Date: Sep 19, 2011
Record label: Fabric Records
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance
In contrast to Kieran Hebden's previous DJ mix efforts as Four Tet, such as his kaleidoscopically genre-jumping DJ-Kicks installment, his entry in the Fabriclive series plays things surprisingly straight, largely limiting his selections to a narrow stripe of electronic dance music, and for the most part linking them together in a reasonably smooth, utilitarian fashion. The set's relative focus and club-mindedness is perhaps less of a surprise coming in the wake of 2010's There Is Love in You, Hebden's most floor-friendly record to date, although here he swaps that album's gentle house explorations for a headfirst plunge into U. K.
Kieran Hebden has always been singled out for his adventurous tastes and the way his disparate obsessions have been seamlessly melded into his own stylistically restless music. Hebden listened without prejudice, a value prized by both the post-rock and DJ communities he came out of at the tail end of the 1990s. Even as eclecticism took a beating in the early 2000s, with mash-up acts and bedroom DJs turning the whole idea into a one-note joke or a cheap way to get noticed, Hebden never shied away from mixing it all up, provided the whole felt greater than the trick of joining seemingly incompatible parts.
Few club venues on this planet inspire more reverence from DJs than fabric: one need only review the testimonials from those who've helmed installments of the club's mix series to get a sense for how often a DJ has viewed his contribution as a chance to give something back to the place. Kieran Hebden, the man known as Four Tet, is no exception—in fact he's taken things a bit further: for his Fabriclive entry, a diverse, compelling tapestry of 2-step, house and broken beats, Hebden has woven in shreds of field recordings made of the club, on the street and down in its stylishly industrial bowels. This gives the mix a topographical quality, as if you're moving from Room One to Room Two to Room Three and back again, lost in a warren of dizzying bass pulses and echoing voices.
It seems a very long time ago that Four Tet's name was linked with folktronica. This sophisticated Fabriclive mix casts remixer, collaborator and electronic auteur Kieran Hebden as a kind of archivist. Before the current UK pop-grime-rave hegemony, there was garage, and a variant called two-step. Here, Hebden peels back the layers of bass music to revisit ancient history, vestigial tracks and roads less travelled.
Hebden’s mix may not be smooth, but his musical vision is distinct. Chris Power 2011 The 59th edition of the FabricLive mix series might just be the most ‘live’ sounding of all, interspersed as it is with field recordings made at the London club. Hearing muffled drums and chattering voices is not unlike moving from room to room within Fabric’s cavernous interior.