Release Date: Nov 18, 2008
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Indie, Electronic
Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) first teamed up with noted jazz/Motown drummer Steve Reid (James Brown, Miles Davis, Sun Ra) back in 2006 to collaborate on The Exchange Sessions. On their fourth joint effort, the unlikely pair - who refer to each other as musical soulmates - blend Reid's acoustic drumming with Hebden's electro-wizardry to create textured, atmospheric soundscapes backed by Reid's ride-heavy jazz kit. Despite repetitive structures and an average song length of over seven minutes, the duo hold interest with their sterling musicianship and artfully detailed performances.
You don’t get to jam with Sun Ra, Fela Kuti and Miles Davis unless you’ve earned some serious chops. Drummer and native New Yorker Steve Reid has played with all of the above, and his decision to collaborate with Four Tet/Fridge mainman Kieran Hebden shows that Reid, now well into his 60s, is still actively seeking out innovative musicians to collaborate with. This fourth record from Hebden and Reid is their most accessible effort yet, and it gives both musicians ample space to do what they do so well.The idea behind NYC was to capture on wax some of the pulsating energy of Reid’s city, and the two met up in Hell’s Kitchen to record over two days in February 2008.
The latest in a string of rather transparently and deliberately Odd Couple duo records, NYC sees Four Tet digital brainiac Kieran Hebden’s usual glittery flourishes buddy up to sexagenarian jazz drummer Steve Reid for a set that must rank among the most challenging listening material either has ever produced. On the surface, their records together are generally too messy and formless for even your average Four Tet fan, almost like a like a whole album’s worth of the aimless Mars Volta interludes. NYC then ups the artsyfartsyness ante even further by thematically tying each song to a specific location in New York, insofar as that can be done with abstract cyclical sound-art: “25th Street”, “1st and 1st”, and so on.
Stretched across 30 minutes of an almost continuous post-modern boogaloo, Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid’s ginned-up speak’n’spell-ectronics pay homage to New York City. There are patches of cascading squeals, growls and sirens, neatly checking off every marker of the Gotham spectrum, as well as the peripheral air of indie guitar and eastern chimes. The beat itself slows quickly and stops to mark the end of each piece, the way a subway train seems to accelerate before stopping at each station.