Release Date: May 6, 2008
Record label: Domino
Any new release from Four Tet is bound to get me a little giddy, even if it’s just an EP, and Ringer is no exception. I’m all for Keiran Hebden’s off-kilter jazztronica excursions with Steve Reid, but I have to confess the end result left me slightly underwhelmed. To me, the gift in Hebden’s art is making the most abstract, bizarre sounds into a cohesive whole, and I for one felt that while Tongues and Exchange Sessions were great in a high art, low accessibility kind of way, the man’s knack for making literally anything palatable was slightly neglected.
Manuel Gottsching’s 1984 album E2-E4 has got a lot to answer for. First, LCD Soundsystem tipped their hat toward Gottsching’s sprawling epic with their track "45:33." Now Kieran Hebden assumes his Four Tet moniker to release the Gottsching-esque Ringer. The title track replicates E2-E4’s gently repetitive krautrock patterns, with Hebden steering the song into a balmy lock-groove that blisters and sways with bursts of electronic noise.
Review Summary: Drone influenced electronic music that isn't a huge snoozefestKieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) has released three solo albums in the past three years. While he has been crafting his own music since 1999 he is most well known for his exotic remixes of songs by acclaimed acts such as Aphex Twin, Black Sabbath, Battles, and Radiohead. Clumped into genres such as “folktronica” and “nu-jazz” Hebden isn’t just another generic electronic artist.
Domino laptop wizard Kieran Hebden finally leaves the odd folktronica category behind in this latest EP, eschewing beat-driven hip-hop and jazz-infused free-form in favour of something akin to vintage techno or even Krautrock. A far cry from his collaborative efforts with respected jazz drummer Steve Reid, it's all hissing cymbals, spacey percussion and fluid electro. Truthfully, it's a mellow Sunday afternoon after a hard night's clubbing: perfectly pleasant, but quite forgettable.
Branded with the dubious "folktronica" tag following 2001's Pause, Four Tet's Kieran Hebden has tried to shake the label from his solo moniker ever since. Work with artists as diverse as Madvillain and Steve Reid inspired fresh material that drew from indie-rock, hip-hop, free jazz and the avant-garde. If it wasn't the samples littering 2003's Rounds, it was the elongated improvisational collaborations with Reid; if not the cerebral DJ Kicks, then the remixes for Bloc Party and Super Furry Animals.