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Rockin' Our Turntable: Four Tet

By Veronica Murtagh in Arts & Entertainment on Feb 4, 2010 8:20PM

2010_02_FourTet.jpg So many albums and so many music careers are marked by "the great buildup." Artists are expected with each new release to top their subsequent and if they should choose to explore new territory, fans expect a logical progression. Much effort goes into the layout of an album's tracklisting, ensuring just right placements to hold attention and provide a crescendo of enthusiasm that peaks at the album's close, enticing you to hit play from the beginning and recreate that rush again and again. It's a rare treat then when you find an artist who goes against this grain and realizes that more powerful than the buildup is the breakdown.

Kieran Hebden has been making electronic music for nearly a decade under the name Four Tet, weaving a sonic tapestry from the sounds of jazz, folk, hip-hop and electronica. With each album Hebden drawn from different inspirations with his earliest work being coined "folktronica" and his last studio album, 2005's Everything Is Ecstatic, sidestepping into lengthy vortexes of comparatively darker sounds. Now more than ever, on his long-awaited fifth full-length album, There Is Love In You, Hebden toys with how we mentally process music, starting at a peak and slowly climbing down from above until suddenly you find yourself on the ground, looking back up the mountain you descended with curious reflection.

Remixes aside, for the first time in his career Hebden creates original tracks that feel ready for the dancefloor. There Is Love In You's first three track selections, "Angel Echoes," "Circling" and "Love Cry" are all rhythmic starters, drawing from a combination of DJ-friendly influences like house and techno. But this is still a Four Tet album and Hebden's dancefloor is a sophisticated one that comes with just the right amount of repetition and minimalist undertones.

"Sing" hits right at the album's midpoint, a quirky festival of 8-bit blips that transition "There Is Love In You" from the dancefloor to the descent. By the time "This Unfolds," "Reversing" and "Plastic People" have left their marks, There Is Love In You has become shaded by graceful, sleepy sounds that draw out the last moments of your journey to the bottom, reminding you not to rush but to remember. "She Just Likes To Fight" ambles alongside your final steps with that familiar, quiet brightness that by now Hebden has proven himself a master of.

Across four proper albums as Four Tet, Hebden's career has explored of the breadth of creativity possible in electronic music. But never favoring grandiose statements or singular albums that pack a punch, Hebden has smartly allowed himself room for experimentation. Like a well-executed plan, nine years of musicmaking come together on Four Tet's There Is Love In You and then break down into something truly remarkable, glorious and absolutely memorable.

Four Tet plays two shows with Nathan Fake, Friday, February 19, at Empty Bottle, 1035 N Western, 8 p.m. and 11 p.m., $15, 21+