Four Tet (Kieran Hebden) returns with his seventh album Beautiful Rewind. Known for pushing the boundaries of weird and wonderful sonic textures, this was always going to be a surprising Long Player – especially given its rigid ‘no marketing’ policy. The album is a nod to the days of pirate radio: off-edge sampling, MC rhymes and heavy jungle breaks. Beautiful Rewind’s outlook is distinctly broad and in this sense is a departure from past albums like ‘There Is Love In You’ which felt more reflective than this.
The introduction comes by way of the chaotic ’Gong’, with its paced break-beat drum loop, ringing bells and Burial-esque female voice. It’s a powerful opener. The rolling stutter of ‘Parallel Jalebi’ continues the subby mood, and it is not only until ‘Ba Teaches Yoga’ that the customary textures of Four Tet arrive. Light rolling bleeps and a ticking percussion build the track as it slowly blossoms, a soft ease on the ears before taking us into the lead single ‘Kool FM’. Named after the famous 90s pirate radio station, it thumps away, carrying a cheeky, jungle-indebted attitude to rough sampling. A “Hey Hey Hey” vocal breaks out amidst a breakbeat, making for a muddy sort of listening. The concept is there but it is hard to get attached to – a recurring problem on the album as a whole.
‘Crush’ holds a unclouded touch, a higher range of ripe sounds and vocal samples steadies you along as lower tones eventually take shape to create this beat-less piece, one of the few times you get to feel the progression. The same goes for ‘Unicorn’, the complex sequencing of bleeps accompanied by the low drone is a Kieran staple, textured and melodic, it stands out from the album’s rougher moments. ‘Buchla’ picks up the tempo again a ripping synth, deep humming bass and looped vocal. The flickers at the beginning of ‘Aerial’ descend into raw synths laced with a mumbling MC sample, a track which blends the opposite ends of this LP. ‘Your Body Feels’ brings the album to an end, a slow, tender track with a 2-step beat, shuffling percussion and ambient keys a touching finale.
Beautiful Rewind never settles or lingers and, taken as a whole, leaves you a little unhinged. However, the individual tracks are of a standard you won’t find anywhere else.
By Jonathan Hill
Text Records | October | Vinyl, digital
04.Ba Teaches Yoga
11.Your Body Feels