FOUR TET: Ringer (Domino Recording Co.)


Posted on Apr 29th 2008 12:30 am

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Four Tet: Ringer

Domino Recording Co. 2008
04 Tracks. 31mins33secs
Format: CDS/12″/Digital

It has been a while, over two years in fact, since Kieran Hebden last paraded as Four Tet. During this time, his focus has been on his collaboration with jazz drummer and percussionist Steve Reid, with various degrees of success. Since 2005, the pair have relentlessly toured and released three records, two if the Exchange Session diptych is to be counted as one offering.

One of the pioneers of the ill-named folktronica movement, a tag he has constantly rejected ever since it was stamped all over his work, Hebden abandons here, perhaps not permanently, the future will tell, the voluptuous formations that have made him a near-household name and turns his attention to much more purely electronic soundscapes. Indeed, the four tracks presented here are all built around vintage synth sounds and ambiences that are deeply rooted in mid-seventies krautrock and late seventies electronic experimentations, bringing to mind the work of Harmonia, Klaus Schulze and Manuel Göttsching, especially on Ringer, which lingers over the ten minutes. It may at first seem as if the track is stuck in a groove, but it actually progresses quite radically from its original looped motif into lush sonic blooms. On Ribbons, Hebden toys with a more playful theme, but the vintage electronic scope remains, served by swifts arpeggios and a sumptuous collection of musicbox-like shimmering ornaments which gives this piece a truly magical feel. With its drone-like organ and filtered rhythmic pattern, Swimmer sounds like the improbable meeting of Autobhan and Trans-Europe Express, with added ringing electric guitar motif to bring the piece to its conclusion. On Wing Body Wing, Hebden introduces an African-tinted beat on which he then flourishes with effervescent electronic noises and sharp sequences before the beat returns to the forefront toward the end.

Ringer contrasts greatly with Hebden’s recent all-out improv and noise experimentations, showcasing instead very tidy rhythmic structures and repetitive phrases. It is, in fact, quite distant from the colourful landscapes he sculpted on Pause, Rounds and Everything Ecstatic, a feeling subtly captured on the very sixties black and white cover picture. Ringer is however one of Hebden’s strongest releases to date, and one that could see him move into brand new grounds.


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3 Responses to “FOUR TET: Ringer (Domino Recording Co.)”

  1. David Abravanelon 30 Apr 2008 at 6:32 am

    I’m really enjoying this one. As much as I enjoyed “Smile Around The Face”, I couldn’t help thinking that he was running out of ideas on Everything Ecstatic. I dig the new 4/4, pulsing beat sound; it’ll be interesting to see if he fleshes it out further on his next album.

  2. themilkmanon 01 May 2008 at 12:21 am

    I did feel a bit the same about EE. I was listening to it again the other day and it certainly doesn’t quite hold itself as well as Pause or Rounds. This new direction, if it is a new direction, is, for now, very interesting I must admit.

  3. […] started to look up slightly last year though as Four Tet returned, first with the Krautrock-infused Ringer EP, then with a split release with Burial, which seemed to denote a renewed interest from press and […]