When Four Tet announced through Twitter that he was releasing a new album, that is the first sure sign that he is a forward-thinking artist. From the list of names that he had collaborated with including Jamie xx, Skrillex, Burial, Thom Yorke and his friend Caribou, something was definitely looming. And just like that, he hit the nail on the head with the construction of Morning/Evening, challenging what fans expect a traditional record to be.
Morning/Evening comes as Kieran Hedben’s 8th album under his Four Tet moniker. With a simple construction of two twenty-minute tracks – one is called ‘Morning Side’ and the other ‘Evening Side’; it comes together as a sophisticated collection and exploration of sound and texture. Released via his own label, Text Records, the album was crafted over seven several months.
‘Morning Side’ begins with an obscure reverb that leads in with a vocal sample of Bollywood singer Lata Mangeshar’s ‘Main Teri Chhoti Behana Hoon’, from the 1983 film Souten. Interestingly enough, Four Tet is actually half Indian, and while employing musical traits of his culture is rare for him, he tributed the track ‘Ba Teaches Yoga’ off Beautiful Rewind to his late grandmother after she passed away in 2013 during the album’s recording. This connection with his background is something that is explored quite heavily in this track through the vocal sample that repetitively develops. Featuring humming clarinets and lush orchestral strings, the UK producer creates texture through layering slices of Indian culture with a selection of moodier synth notes and beats. Surprisingly, this is something that works in his favour, with the soft lulls and coons of the singer coming across as a lullaby.
Four Tet breaks up the cultural referencing and lucidity, with vocals fading out and replaced by this scratchy, hip-hop beat. The vocal is then reintroduced at an almost dreamlike pace, really honing in the Four Tet’s ability to show moments of lightness and darkness – much like the name of the album itself.
Nearing the end of the track, Four Tet brings to the fore an interesting combination of electronic sounds; sounds that you can liken to a cosmic experience. You can imagine a circuit board full of buttons lighting up in sync with the intricate programming of Four Tet’s production; the juxtaposition between the springy keyboard notes and whirred sounds makes for an interesting marriage.
The beginning of ‘Evening Side’ features isolated, jutting high notes. It then transitions swiftly into swooping darker sounds that underlay oriental guitar picking and singing that trills. The wordless sample repeats and creates lightness and space between the warped beats, making for an atmospheric mood. This might seem like an odd move for some – all these samples from different cultures – but when you learn that Hedben actually produced Omar Souleyman’s album Wenu Wenu in 2013, it seems a clear advancement.
Four Tet begins to tread even lighter, reconstructing the solo high notes, leaving more space in between each. He also introduces a noise that sounds like a flock of seagulls by the sea and for some reason this has a calming effect reminding me of a lighthouse light spinning around and around, searching the sea. Of course, this doesn’t last very long as the tempo is built right back up with the introduction of a pounding kick drum that carries the track to its end.
Four Tet’s new album is one of various beats, samples and textures. For those that appreciate his music, dedicating yourself for 20 minutes to listen to each track is an easy endeavour. For others, deciding to sit down for 20 minutes is a commitment – much like finally deciding what you want for lunch. Channelling cosmic influences, psychedelic and techno, Morning/Evening is an easy listen, and like most of Four Tet’s previous material, the album is obscure and experimental, leaving a lasting impression.
Morning/Evening is out now on Text Records.