Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, has always pushed musical boundaries. Whether it be with his inimitable style of electronica – glitching up folk samples into haunting hip-hop melodies – or live laptop jamming with jazz drummers, he always manages to do something different and subvert expectations. With the release of his latest and most accessible album, There Is Love In You, he has found himself sitting alongside the likes of Joy Orbison and Pearson Sound on releases and line-ups alike. These pioneers are re-inventing bass music and Pearson Sound’s recent Fabric Mix is a good example of where these new genres are headed. If you’ve come to terms with Four Tet’s endless curve balling then you won’t be as surprised to know that this mix doesn’t pick up where Pearson Sound’s left off.
Four Tet’s contribution to the Fabric series is largely focused around garage and the genres it’s subsequently influenced. Its enduring features are sparse notation, heavy beats with stuttering hats, lots of bass and a scattering of vocal snippets. Yet despite the clinical way his selections can be stripped down to their bare bones, as a whole the mix makes for a much more soulful experience. It’s unlikely that you’d notice without being told, but each track is ripped from vinyl and then glued together on his trusty laptop. In a number of cases this meant cutting it to vinyl specifically to re-record it back to digital. It sounds like a surprising amount of effort but then surprising is what Hebden does best. It also succeeds in giving the mix a human feel, along with the cut-and-play blends and the ‘found-sounds’ taken from in and around Fabric itself.
The tracklist noticeably highlights the shunning of ‘expected’ names in the mix (with the exception of Caribou, Burial and Floating Points) in favour of rarer cuts and the 90s originals that inspired them. If you believe the press release, Hebden spent a great deal of time attempting to find music for this mix that even he’d missed out on two decades earlier. We’re inclined to believe this, however unlikely, just because the man can’t help but be three steps in front of everyone else at all times. On top of sourcing forgotten gems and format shuffling he somehow found time to produce a remix and two originals just for this outing. ‘Pyramid’ particularly caught our ear. A propulsive kick and bass line combine under shuffling hats and chopped vocals in an atypically straight up dance-floor stomper. These elements gradually dwindle to allow space for a delightfully melodic, tinkling breakdown which, in turn, dissipates giving way for the locomotion of the bass and kick to return. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that this gets an official release as it’d be the ideal replacement for Julio Bashmore‘s ‘Battle For Middle You’ that we’ve played so many times our mp3 has disintegrated.
Four Tet has produced a Fabric installment that could well stand the test of time. The inclusion of older tracks gives it more substance than a zeitgeist mix and the field recordings interrupt the flow just enough to make it a suitable soundtrack for commuting as much as partying. Fabriclive 59 just goes to show how truly talented Kieran Hebden is but also how much effort and attention to detail he puts into all of his work. It marks another chapter, another string in his bow and another set of releases to get ridiculously excited about.
2. Michael Redolfi – Immersion Partielle [INA-GRM]
3. Crazy Bald Heads – First Born [On-Tick]
4. Persian – Feel Da Vibe [Same People]
5. KH – 101112 [unreleased]
6. Youngstar (Musical Mob) – Pulse X [Inspired Sounds]
7. Crazy Bald Heads – First Born (Four Tet Remix) [unreleased]
8. Floating Points – Sais (dub) [Eglo]
9. Apple – Mr Bean [Appsolute]
10. Manitoba – Webers [Leaf]
11. Big Bird – Flav (Urban Myths Remix) [Nice n Ripe]
12. Genius – Waiting [Kronik]
13. Four Tet – Fabric [unreleased]
14. David Borden – The Continuing Story of Counterpoint Part Nine [David Borden]
15. STL – Dark Energy [Something]
16. Percussions – Percussions One [unreleased]
17. C++ – Angie’s Fucked [Music For Freaks]
18. Burial – Street Halo [Hyperdub]
19. KMA – Cape Fear [KMA]
20. WK7 – Higher Power [Power House]
21. Ricardo Villalobos – Sieso [Cadenza]
22. Four Tet – Pyramid [Text]
23. Red Rack ‘em – How I Program [Bergerac]
24. Active Minds – Hobson’s Choice (Tune For Da Man Dem) [white]
25. Armando Gallop & Steve Poindexter – Blackholes [Muzique]
27. Four Tet – Locked [Text]
Fabriclive 59 Mixed By Four Tet is available to pre-order now from Fabric.