Words About Music
Four Tet “Beautiful Rewind”
When U.K. electronic musician Kieran Hebden isn’t busy reminding people that he isn’t the elusive, anonymous dubstep icon Burial, he’s doing what he’s done best for 10 years: making music. Ever since taking a break from his post-rock band Fridge in the early 2000s he’s been producing some excellently crafted electronic music that fills the gaps between downtempo, house, trip hop, and sample-based glitch music almost effortlessly. His 2003 album “Rounds” is often considered a modern classic, especially in the electronic music umbrella category. He’s released some great albums under the Four Tet name, and that greatness continues into his seventh record “Beautiful Rewind.”
While the music of Four Tet isn’t always as critically adored as the music on “Rounds,” he hasn’t gotten any less proficient or any less talented in the 10 years since that album was released. He’s experimented with ambient music, psychedelic influences, folktronica, and several other subgenres that never feel any less like Four Tet. On “Beautiful Rewind,” Hebden brings instrumentals that pulsate and bounce almost like club tracks while being notably non-danceworthy. Layers of abstract keyboards and synths on top of dramatic feedback and some light percussion make this album feel incredibly natural.
Some tracks wobble, some tracks whine, some tracks softly intensify, and almost all of them bring something interesting to the table. But they’re all brought together by some sort of outside force that makes this a cohesive record and not a mixed bag. Repetitive as some of these songs may be, there’s a pretty great flow to this album that saves it from being boring. Tracks like “Kool FM” sound like the smoothest songs The Prodigy never recorded, while songs like “Your Body Feels” sound like less disturbing Boards of Canada singles. Four Tet is just great at making different tones and textures sound awesome.
While “Beautiful Rewind” is a good album over 10 years into an impressive career, it’s not the best from Four Tet. Hebden isn’t the world’s most prolific musician out there, but “Beautiful Rewind” is his third album in three years. Too much too fast can definitely make one’s career sour, especially considering that his last two albums “There Is Love In You” and “Pink” are pretty excellent. My advice to Four Tet: take a break. Maybe three years or so without an album. Do some live shows, maybe convince Burial to actually record another album, I don’t know. But it does say a lot about a musician when even their least fascinating records are still pretty good.
SCORE – 6.6
FAVORITE TRACKS – Gong, Parallel Jalebi, Kool FM, Buchla, Unicorn, Your Body Feels