Four Tet - Rounds Reviewed 05.05.03

Four Tet
Get Real Player Get Windows Media Player
Four Tet - Rounds (released 05.05.03)

Four Tet is the assumed name of Kieran Hebden, who is renowned for pushing at the creative boundaries of computerised music and reveling in the opportunities the technology offers to produce sounds and rhythms that would be impossible to generate with traditional instrumentation.

'Rounds' is aptly titled as the record is based around a succession of loops that build chilled-out sound-scapes through the integration of beats, blips, chimes, and other percussive effects. Traditional instrumentation is also added as a complement to the avant-garde. This is used to particularly impressive effect on 'Unspoken' and 'My Angel Rocks Back And Forth', where delicate piano and harp samples are incorporated.

Four Tet - Rounds (released 05.05.03) @ www.contactmusic.com
The experimentation that initiates and develops upon the chilled out, melancholic instrumentals on 'Rounds' is often spoiled by electronic effects that seem intent on causing maximum irritation. For example, 'As Serious As Your Life' breaks free of the melancholia with a fierce drum beat and funky bass line. Unfortunately, towards the end of the song, the bass line creates the impression that the CD is skipping, which very nearly resulted in me destroying my stereo with a blunt instrument.
The following track, 'And They All Look Broken Hearted' suffers similarly, with the acoustic guitar instrumental ruined by the increasing discordance of the hip-hop beats. To complete my list of irritating effects 'Spirit Fingers' seems to include the sound a computer makes when you hit an invalid key and 'She Moves She' has it's relaxing ambience destroyed by what sounds like interference from a mobile phone.
Despite my litany of complaints, Four Tet's previous releases have been critically acclaimed and further positive recognition has been received after touring with two of the more experimental indie bands, Radiohead and Super Furry Animals. Hebden is also set to produce the next Beth Orton album. He may well be a good choice as a producer with his experimental leanings bringing new aspects of established artists to the fore.

Gavin Eves