Review Summary: It seems perfection may be reached in Four Tet's future.
As I play “Circling” through my speakers, I find that I am lost amid a flurry of harp-like flourishes and eerie jingles before, wait--it stops. Oh, there it goes again. The flurries pick me up off of the ground, with wait--what’s this? It seems a sampled voice from a woman is buzzing in my ear; it’s as if she’s possibly trying to say something understandable, or, heaven forbid, conversational in nature to me. I beg your pardon, my friends--it seems I must compose myself in order to analyze and asses what exactly has stolen my attention away from this paper. Deeply rooted under an assortment of samples and a core of electronic tapestries is the foundation for a mysterious ensnarement that Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet has birthed and unleashed upon the world; until further notice, it seems this writer will be at its mercy.
Past releases from Four Tet have been, well, really exceptional. The three-album run that started with the jazz-sampled drum lines of Dialogue
, continued on to the folk electronics of Pause
, and finally, concluded on the diverse, experimental, and ultimately successful Rounds
displayed Kieran Hebden’s raw talent in the area of diverse and consistent music creation. The dark, textured Everything Estatic
was no slouch either; however, when held against the artist’s previous work, the depressingly “good” fourth album was just that and no more. If my ridiculous hyperbole has not given it away just yet, fifth album There Is Love In You
is a return to the higher level of quality that was first reached with Four Tet’s first three albums; in some ways, it seems to even go beyond that.
From the onset, I think it’s safe to say that the Kieran Hebden’s recent collaborations with Steve Reid and Burial have really paid off in spades. The artist seems to have almost perfected the art of stocking There Is Love In You
full of diverse feelings and textures, while still keeping the whole of the album seamless and fluent. Moments of awkwardness or disjunction, while there are some, are few and far in between. Whether it’s the aforementioned harp-like cycles of "Circling", or the one-two, discordant sounds of “Sing”, the album is able to play straight through rather easily without too much trouble, despite the number of varying elements--voices, samples, drum loops, and all. This is really an astounding feat in an electronic instrumental project. Whereas most artists seem to be limited to a set number of instruments or samples before they start to sound incoherent and/or messy, Four Tet have the ability to keep piling instrument after instrument, or sample after sample, without losing the listener in the process. It makes me wonder just how far the English artist might go with his experimentation in the future, and, likewise, when he will inevitably hit the glass ceiling of inclusions.
If differences in track layouts and sound inclusions weren’t enough, the lengths of There Is Love In You
’s nine songs vary starkly in comparison as well. The album starts on the glorious, four minutes of “Angels Echoes”, with its awe-inspiring female samples, before leading into the diverse and resounding impact of nine-minute single “Love Cry”. “Circling” follows in half the latter’s time; “Pablo’s Heart" can't even break twenty seconds; and “Sing”, when combined with the melodramatic “The Unfold”, play out for a little over a quarter of an hour. The album’s final piece may very well be the best of the bunch. “She Just Likes to Fly” begins on an anthem-like progression and slowly bubbles and builds to an appropriate, albeit gentle climax; if anything, the song brings to mind a certain “Your Hand In Mine” from a very renowned, post-rock group. Diversely structured, diversely layed, and
diversely timed--how is Mr. Hebden able to do it?
The combined elements of Four Tet’s sound and consistent song structures seem to give There Is Love In You
an odd, addictive quality. Sure, I may come back to albums like this for a peaceful listen every now or then, or maybe just so I can obtain a moment’s reprieve from the more pressing moments in life, but hardly ever does an IDM release cause me to want to listen to it straight through while in a work-out session, or while I’m speeding down the highway. What exactly has the English artist hidden in this thing that would cause it to have such a magnetic pull? It’s like the sum of its parts are building together in unison to pull me down and drown me in their lush, dense fabrics all at once. Some may ask if There Is Love In You
is a perfect album, and I fear that I would have to say that no, it’s not. However, if this is the pathway of progression that Four Tet have started down on and plan to continue developing, then I think it's fair to say that perfection may be reached in the artist's future.