Release Date: Jan 26, 2010
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
At this point in his career, Kieran Hebden hardly needs to worry about breaking ground or building cred. You’d have to go back to 2002 to find a time when Hebden’s Four Tet project wasn’t synonymous with both innovation and consistency in songcraft. But There Is Love in You feels like a watershed moment all the same, as it’s that rare record where an established artist manages to surpass his own exceedingly high standards.
Good news, list fans; when the age-old 'Best album opening trio' debate rears its inevitable head once more, we now have a new contender to add to its hallowed ranks: There is Love in You begins with an absolute stormer of a triple whammy. Opener ‘Angel Echoes’ is one of those wonderfully fragile pieces of music that makes you stop dead in your tracks and listen to every single sound and aching note lurking in its ethereal existence. It feels connected to moments from Four Tet’s first three records, yet discernibly more learned, utilising the words from the album title spliced into a reassembled abstract choral plea.
Kieran Hebden's first Four Tet full-length in four years comes after a parade of collaboration albums, DJ dates, remixes, and one EP that sounded strikingly like John Carpenter soundtracking the original Halloween film. Appropriately, There Is Love in You is a reset album, one where Hebden pares his music down to the essentials. (Sorry, no dubstep workouts or pastoral ballads to be found here.) It's the most natural he's sounded on record in years, much more assured than Everything Ecstatic, which bore the brunt of Hebden's wish to snip the folktronica tag by floating an array of (somewhat) iconoclastic tracks.
Kieran Hebden first came on the scene in the 1990s as a member of Fridge, a post-rock outfit that to me always looked better on paper than they sounded on record. Whatever you think of his first band, Hebden's subsequent career can be seen as the idea of post-rock done right. His appetite for music, on the evidence presented in his albums, singles, DJ sets, and collaborations, is voracious.
There is such a thing as too much innovation. Artists known for it are often faced with fans getting accustomed to their commitment to change. What's left to do when pushing the envelope becomes commonplace? Take a wrong step, and get you panned. Look back on the past, and complaints of laziness arise.
In the five years since Four Tet's last full-length new release – the dense, impassioned Everything Ecstatic – Kieran Hebden has released no less than four full-length collaborations with the veteran American free-jazz drummer Steve Reid and a 12-inch vinyl hook-up with old schoolmate Burial, as well as collaborating with David Arnold on the song accompanying the end credits of Quantum of Solace. But however extensive his extra-curricular activities as remixer, DJ, producer and all-round catalyst about town become, the albums Hebden makes as Four Tet always manage to establish and sustain their own coherent musical identities. (Just listen to how complete and satisfying 2001's Pause still sounds if you doubt this.
Perhaps his best yet... Kieran Hebden’s first album as Four Tet in almost five years is perhaps his best yet, sealing his reputation for blending jazz, electronica and classical influences into seamless, shimmering soundscapes with an ever-mutating style. Single ‘Love Cry’ is a lush dancefloor disco epic with nagging vocal samples that build on the motorik rhythms of his previous ‘Ringer’ EP.
One thing that is unusual about Kieran Hebden’s take on electronic music as Four Tet is that it really seems to dance. The music, I mean. A lot of modern dance music is vainly repetitive, brutally over-compressed, and driven by simplistic ideas of tension and release that remind me of the line graphs I used to draw in algebra class. There is something depressing about such mechanical precision, something fatalistic about a climax you can spot from a mile away.
Starting off in post-rockers Fridge, carving out a name for himself with a series of high profile remixes (Aphex Twin, Radiohead, Madvillian, Kings of Convenience, et al. ) and releases as Four Tet, and spending the last four years or so collaborating with jazz legend Steve Reid, Kieran Hebden’s decade-plus career has yielded some fantastic works, to be sure. Yet, until 2008’s Ringer EP, there was always a sense that, despite being branded an electronic performer from day one, Hebden saw himself more in the shadow of spiritual jazzboes (such as Reid himself or the other regular standby Alice Coltrane) than within the continuum of house or rave.
Technically, this is Four Tet's first solo album in almost five years, but fans of the experimental artist (also known as Kieran Hebden) know he's been keeping busy making out-there improv music with jazz drummer Steve Reid as well as doing lots of DJing and remix work. [rssbreak] It's definitely that latter sideline that informs this newest offering. In the past, his solo work has been fairly academic and serious, but this time he's made a point of testing out his heady electronic soundscapes at his DJ gigs.
Electronic auteur revisits his past, digs deeper into hypnotic dance grooves While he’s hardly been inactive during the five years since the last Four Tet LP (releasing a set of remixes, a Fridge album and no less than four collaborations with avant-garde jazz drummer Steve Reid), Kieran Hebden has lost some momentum since he revolutionized electronic music with his use of folk instruments on 2003’s Rounds. That he hasn’t really tied up the loose ends of that experiment into some definitive statement is both a small disappointment and a large testament to his creative restlessness. Part minimalist dance record, part undulating sound collage, his new album serves as a scrapbook of nearly every idea Hebden has examined and cast aside during his career.
If Steve Reich and Terry Riley had come of age forty years later than they did, chances are pretty high that the godfathers of modern minimalism would’ve done a killer collaboration with Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet). Revered for his elegant and often mesmerizing synthesis of acoustic, electric, and digital instruments, this insatiable experimentalist has been concocting his uncompromising soundscapes for more than ten years now.
Those who’ve lost contact with Four Tet, be aware: the bliss is back. Si Hawkins 2010 You have to admire Kieran Hebden for sticking so rigidly to his vision. Back in 2003 the London-based producer made an album called Rounds, which became rather more popular than he’d envisaged due to its winning mix of beautiful, organic-sounding melodies and novel, cleverly-manipulated samples.
A formidable sound technician, Kieran Hebden has excelled as both a solo artist and a collaborator, including projects with free jazz drummer Steve Reid and UK dubstep phenom Burial. There Is Love in You, the UK DJ/producer's first proper album since 2005's Everything Ecstatic, admittedly has some catching up to do. Gauzy opener "Angel Echoes" is a pristine mash-up of the headphones variety, but the nine-minute "Love Cry" is the LP standout, circling around a hi-hat and drum beat, adding layers of vocal samples and synth to the brew.