Saturday, 22 September 2012

Four Tet - Pink


Four Tet (the pseudonym of Kieran Hebden) released his most spacious and sophisticated album two years ago with 'There Is Love In You'. His atypical jazzy style of composition became fully electronic. His minimalistic glitch soundscapes never reached as far out as Aphex Twin or more recent, Gold Panda, but it was still there. It stays in your mind whilst listening to 'Love Cry', a nine minute beat heavy thriller of a track. Ambient became Four Tet's thing, with the emphasis on soundscapes and atmosphere. It wasn't as hectic as his previous studio albums, 'Rounds' and 'Pause'. His acoustic guitar melodies were no more. His electronic age was just beginning to reach its heights.

One year prior to this, Four Tet collaborated with Burial on the enigmatic 'study' music single 'Moth / Wolf Club'. Burial's heavy beats and dreamy samples matched Four Tet's sampler and progressions like peas in a pod. This partnership continued post-There Is Love In You; in what was has been an excellent two years for Four Tet. First was the 'Ego / Mirror' single, again with Burial with none other than Thom Yorke on vocals. Then came 'Nova' earlier on in 2012. Nova being my most favoured collab because with its energy, fast paced beats and brilliant repetitive progression.

It wasn't just the collaborations that kept Four Tet going, oh no. He released a massive four singles, all of which have been compiled along with two new tracks to create this compilation album Pink. That's right readers, this is not the latest studio album by Four Tet, and it’s not a follow up to There Is love In You. It's simply a compilation of singles. I don't need to tell you how impressive these singles already are because I'm sure you've listened too many of them before, but as a compilation album, how do they stand up? Do the new tracks warrant a place among these stellar singles?

'Locked' features a brilliant drum loop and an excellent guitar riff/sample. It's another one of Four Tet's huge build-ups, and I love every second of it. The variety of instruments, the shocking bas wobbles and the cute high pitched samples all come together nicely in one sweet finale before the bass synth closes the track off. One of the new tracks 'Lion' is nine minutes long. It champions a very heavy and 90's-esque jungle beat. It reminds me of a New Order / Happy Mondays kind of track with deeper bass and glitchy soundscapes. The heavy bass synth suddenly changes that opinion and brings to light darker The Chemical Brothers material. Great stuff with the percussion and the vocal loops. The dark and deep sample loop is also reminiscent of Burial's earlier work.

This compilations greatest moment comes with the rapid reverberation of 'Jupiters'. It opens with a stunning synthesized intro, a curious clicking percussion then all hell literally breaks loose. A bass drop, in a Four Tet track. Yes, the ever increasingly popular bass drop has made its way to Four Tet and what an impact it leaves on the album. The twinkling keyboard and the bass synthesizer are absolutely nothing in this track without the heavy low bass. It has a pulse, something which Four Tet's earlier work maybe lacked. Glitch sounds enter as the beat makes its way through the bass with samples on both the left and right side. Jupiters is also atmospheric and filled with clear soundscapes. We hear a small vocal break with cut up vocals, only for the bass and opening synth to return, capping off one of the best tracks of 2K12. Following the fashion of compilation albums, the B-side to Jupiters makes its immediate appearance. 'Ocoras' has a standard glitch beat ala Caribou / Gold Panda. The synth samples and repetitive beat come to a close when the layers present themselves out of the darkness. A simple 4/4 rhythm commences and a swirling synthesizer enters with a banging one noted keyboard sample. The layers increase, the samples increase and the track gradually reaches its climax... Only to be broken down by a sudden stop of instrumentation and an outro of the glitchy bass beat.

'128 Harps' is another A-side single Four Tet has released so far this year. This track is more of a sample mash up than anything. The most catching and meaningful moment is obviously the harp. It sounds like a rendition of John Cage's 'In A Landscape'. Similarities and influence aside, it's a terrific track with more brilliant percussion and slight forms of wob bass, breaks and random instrumentation. The longer and more abrasive 'Pyramid' is far more reliant on its samples. The vocal, 'I remember how you walked away' repeats throughout, giving this track something more than the ordinary 4/4 beat. Four Tet never fails to add a synth loop or avant-garde soundscape sample. Pyramid is his fast paced, track to drive to on a dark night.

Even though, we've heard this music before.. it's never quite the same. 'Peace For Earth' is the Brian Eno track out of the lot. It has lovely delayed effects on the synth, the layers and the samples. Peace For Earth has an underlined beauty only a few tracks ever possess. Ambience is at the core, with the knowledge of layers and other-worldly sounds coming through in a 'montage' like ecliptic fashion. The moment of happiness in a movie, the moment you win the lottery, the moment you escape death, debt and pain. These four minutes of beauty do enough for me, which could be Peace For Earth over, but no. A jungle like beat fades in which is very light, fast and twinkly. It's child-like and extremely tedious. Think Aphex Twin's Selected Ambient Works 85 - 92.

Pink ends on a high with 'Pinnacles'. Four Tet returns to his jazz style of production with this bass heavy and percussion heavy track. The beat kicks in with some energy, with the keyboard and piano reciting simplistic chords throughout. Five minutes of this and then the track turns a little crazy. The piano goes on a bender, the percussion reaches an all-time high and the structure seems to have left the building. A few more minutes of this and in comes the heavy electrics. The glitchy synth comes in and... Fade out.

Pink is nothing more than a compilation of Four Tet singles in the past few years. It does have two new unreleased tracks, but they're neither in the same league or territory as Locked, Jupiter and 128 Harps. This release is ultimately a calling card to Four Tet fans that he's not just sitting back, he's not in the dark. He's still putting out music that you didn't know about, so here's what you've been missing. That's Pink. A quick look at the ever 'factual' last.fm stats will see a sharp rise in listens to all of these tracks. Five to ten times higher than when the original singles were released. New material will come and There Is Love In You will have its follow-up shortly. In the meantime, here's a compilation of his recent material.
~Eddie

8.5

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