Review Summary: Drone influenced electronic music that isn't a huge snoozefest
Kieran 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. With his use of off-kiltered sampling and variety of synthetic instruments Four Tet has created a specific style that no other artist can match. Ringer
is his first ep and once again Four Tet branches out and takes a different direction with his music while keeping his signature sound.
Hebden’s most acclaimed album, Rounds
featured a lush palette of laid-back beats, lush synthesizer sounds and samples. With Ringer
Hebden has shown off heavy influences of drone as the ep contains four tracks that are quite lengthy for his standards. The ten minute title track balances bouncy bass stabs with uplifting keyboard tones. This contrast creates a upbeat yet relaxing atmosphere; the danceable sound hypnotizes the listener after a few minutes. Hebden follows this number with the ethereal, beat-driven “Ribbons.” The pulsing, consistent beat and mellow synth sounds emerge creating a vibrant yet casual sound.
On past releases Four Tet has managed to incorporate several instruments into his sound yet Ringer
uses minimal samples and focuses strictly on keyboard melodies and laid-back beats. Like the title suggests “Swimmer” absorbs the listener in with mellow percussion and radiant keyboard notes that sound like they are being played in the ocean. Running at almost nine minutes long “Swimmer” is the most clam and ambient song here that really showcases Hebden’s drone influences. Closing out the album is “Wing Body Wing”, which is the most dance influenced song on the ep. Crafting a simple beat with marimbas and lofty keyboard sparkles the album closes on a vibrant, funky note.
Many albums tagged as “nu-jazz” and electronica are pleasant enough yet there isn’t really enough substance to keep the listener interested. This is not the case with Ringer
as Four Tet is able to create organic keyboard soundscapes and uplifting beats while keeping a hypnotic atmosphere. Ringer
may not be as varied as some of Hebden’s prior releases yet it is certainly a unique stab into the vast world of electronica.