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Album Review

On his second full-length as Four Tet, producer/mixologist/computer kid Kieran Hebden further f*cks with the notion that turntablism and electronica are essentially "nothing more than" computer music. While it's true that all the rhythms, melodies, and harmonies here are collaged samples combined with turntable wizardry, uninformed listeners would be hard-pressed to find anything but a few drum loops that sound as if they were composed and recorded by a band. For starters, on his opener, "Glue of the World," acoustic guitars, zithers, harps, and string basses wander around a minor-key riff that is augmented by a slip 'n' slide hip-hop rhythm with a sharp, in-your-face, drum-'n'-no-bass interlude. The track is a weave; it blends new age, acoustic jazz, and flamenco music in a golden braid that is heavenly. On "Twenty Three," steel drums, bells, and African and Balinese rhythm instruments open the way for an electric piano and acoustic guitar riff aided by a set of congas and bongos to come charging in DJ Shadow style. Just as the West African folk music theme settles, Hebden kicks it with hip-hop and a front line of trumpets, playing a long, slow, languid melody line. It's also beautiful that there are small interludes of found sounds, like typewriter keys re-sequenced against an electric piano to create nothing but an ambient rhythm track that sounds as much like somebody shuffling things around on a desk as anything else — until you pay attention. On tracks like "Untangle," where the percussion sounds a little less organic, Hebden demonstrates with flashes and cross-fades how rhythms from all over the world can be unified by the turntablist's skill — or perhaps by musicians themselves willing to play together, which would be ideal. Four Tet's Pause offers more proof that DJ culture still has plenty to offer, and that Keiran Hebden is just getting started in his experimentation with transcultural electronica. Organic as dirt, and full of an acid-head's sense of space, this one's a winner from start to finish.


Born: 1980 in London, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Spawned by the urge to do something apart from his post-rock band Fridge, Kieran Hebden's Four Tet project balances organic and programmed sounds. Hebden formed Fridge with Sam Jeffers and Adem Ilhan while still in high school. When Fridge went on temporary hiatus for Jeffers and Ilhan to attend college, Hebden spent time playing with ideas gained from hip-hop and electronica that he hadn't had time to develop. Eager to experiment, Hebden bought a computer and began collecting drum and sound samples....
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Pause, Four Tet
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