Four Tet – 0181

Posted February 1, 2013 in Music

The London electronic virtuoso drops an impulsive rarities selection of erstwhile recordings, originally sketched out from 1997 to 2001. Providing a glimpse at Kieran Hebden’s creative process, the compilation is a memento to his cohesive early career, following the house-inflected singles collection, Pink from last year. Although 0181 (named for a London area telephone code) is intended as a single track, the 40 minute album ebbs and flows perfectly with ideas and phases, despite a seemingly arbitrary nature. Combining aspects of hip-hop, electronic, techno, jazz, grime and folk, Hebden supplants the IDM mentality he’s known for of late, for the simple but effective grooves he championed in the early 00’s.

Opening movements harks back to the soundscapes of Angel Echoes, placing a stilted opening banger in cahoots with piano-driven jazz beats and plucked acoustics. A Steve Reid vibe is present throughout; central snare splashes remaining an integral factor in the Four Tet sound. Phase number two sees Hebden begin to bend heads out of shape with plush melody lines that manage to feel both innovative and nostalgic, despite being aeon’s old. Instrumentation is sporadic as usual but always controlled, and the phase becomes a progressive Boiler Room DJ set with an old school jazz swing before making the transition to the next movement.

Brief respites of blissful electronica are scrapped in favour of a penchant for jazz but the record never feels like it’s not building towards something angular. Lush horns and bells sit beneath a hip-hop tinged double-bass line that’ll have you digging up Dialogue and Rounds by the time 0181 concludes. The final phase showcases some sinister hip-hop interspersed with gorgeous acoustic guitar harmonics; a flawless coda that’ll sound sublime on analogue when the compilation gets its promised vinyl release.

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