Four Tet - Beautiful Rewind

As close to a personal zeitgeist as it could possibly be.

“No pre-order, no YouTube trailers, no iTunes stream, no Spotify, no Amazon deal, no charts, no bit coin deal, no last minute Rick Rubin”. This was the statement that greeted Keiran Hebden’s announcement of latest album ‘Beautiful Rewind’. Four Tet’s rejection of current trends is refreshing and reactionary. Hebden’s back to basics approach is one that encapsulates ‘Beautiful Rewind’, abridging forty minutes of sample based, emotively dense electronica.

‘Beautiful Rewind’ is Hebden’s most undisguised club-focused album thus far. It consolidates and reinforces his projects with contemporaries and friends, as well as establishing a landscape that he now wishes to make his own. ‘Buchla’ is Hebden’s convergence of the album’s distinct tones, a marriage between visceral techno and pirate radio samples, shifting from deep throbs to flickering vocals and producing a track catered to early morning euphoria. Seamlessly segueing into ‘Aerial’, the muffled vocals and shuffling rhythms extend the previous track’s etherised state.

The album’s harshest cut ‘Kool FM’, as well as opener ‘Gong’, are particularly frantic and pounding, offering the album immediacy and a distorted pulse. It’s debt to garage and jungle influences are heard in the rewind and MC samples on ‘Kool FM’. Dan Snaith (of Caribou)’s influence itself is spread across the album’s female vocal sample tracks, chiefly ‘Parallel Jalebi’ and closer ‘Your Body Feels’. Penultimate track ‘Unicorn’ is the real standout, with a collection of bleeps and light string stabs that fall like water droplets on a gossamer thread - it’s gorgeous. Likewise with the curiously titled ‘Ba Teaches Yoga’, another elemental track that recalls songs from 2005’s ‘Everything Ecstatic’.

‘Beautiful Rewind’ is anything but ‘There Is Love In You Part II’. At times it’s a strange record. The rough tones don’t register as forcefully as the hooks on previous works. That said, it’s a rewarding listen, one that eventually embeds itself once given full attention. The beginning statement credited to Hebden testifies that he works by his own modus operandi - the direction taken on ‘Beautiful Rewind’ is saliently clear. Like the statement, the title is a catch-all proclamation of Hebden’s past, present and future, possessing a mood that’s as close to a personal zeitgeist as it could possibly be.

Tags: Four Tet, Reviews, Album Reviews

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