An overview of the 16 years of music from Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet
January 25, 2013 8:24 AM   Subscribe

Kieran Hebden recently released a 38 minute long collection of unreleased songs he recorded as Four Tet, between 1997 and 2001, called 0181, to stream or download from Soundcloud. If you like what you hear, in 2011 Hebden "leaked" his first Four Tet EP, which you can stream from Self-titled Magazine's website. If you want to hear and know more of Hebden, venture below the break.

Kieran Hebden has been making music since his teens, first with a couple classmates under the name Fridge, who released their first single in 1997, the same year he released his first solo single, under the 4T Recordings moniker. Fridge were quite productive in the late 1990s, but in 2001, the trio split after their fourth album, Happiness (Grooveshark). They pursued their own paths, with Hebden continuing his path as Four Tet, which wasn't really shelved during the Fridge years, but he really found his own after the break-up.

Four Tet's second solo album, Pause (YT, full vinyl album with playlist), came out in 2001, and was called "a voyage of warm, ambient loveliness" and "Kieran Hebden's best work to date," but that was just the beginning. His third album, Rounds (YT, full album, tracklist in comments) came out two years later, and showed an artist fascinated with the impossible rhythms that the free-form jazz greats could bang out as they pleased.

Like clockwork, Hebden released his next album in 2005. One review was skeptical about the broader appeal of the prior albums, but found the next album to be "heady, wonderful stuff," at least once you got past the first track, A Joy (YT, music video).
More wonderful still is that [Smile Around The Face] (YT, video) sets the tone for much of the rest of the album, which pitches battering, funky rhythms - equal parts hip-hop, Krautrock and jazz - against blissful, slowly shifting textures: tinkling bells and piano on And Then Patterns (YT) lazy hip-hop scratching and gamelan-inspired clank on High Fives (YT, video) droning saxophones and oddly cut-up female vocals on Sun, Drums and Soil (YT, video).
Hebden's next major project was a series of four releases with the diverse musician Steve Reid. The label associated with these releases, Domino Recording Co, put together a documentary of the making of Tongues. It was filmed in 2006, but released online in 2010, after Reid passed away earlier that year (Guardian obit). Here are two videos featuring live performances: Brain; Mom's Marmalade.

In 2008, Hebden (as Four Tet) releases a four-track EP, Ringer, which was summarized as "drone influenced electronic music that isn't a huge snoozefest." Tracks on YT: Ringer; Ribbons; Swimmer; Wing Body Wing. His next Four Tet album, There Is Love in You, came out in 2010, and was a tribute or influenced in part to his residency at the Plastic People club in East London (1 hr long Mixcloud streaming mix). While some said "the bliss is back" with his new album, highlighting tracks including Love Cry, This Unfolds, and Angel Echoes, others felt the album was overshadowed by his previous collaboration with Burial (Moth/Wolf Cub). That collaboration was followed by another, with vocals by Thom Yorke (Ego/Mirror), and last year Hebden and Burial collaborated on another single track, Nova.

Hebden built up to his latest album, Pink, by releasing most of the individual tracks as 12" singles, but Four Tet's latest LP is very much an album, and a masterfully arranged one at that, with standout tracks including Locked, Pyramid, Lion, and 128 Harps.

And with that, you're caught upon the major releases of Four Tet. You can dig deeper on Discogs or Wikipedia, if you want to venture into his various singles, mixes and remixes.
posted by filthy light thief (23 comments total) 51 users marked this as a favorite
If you want to go on a tangent, look up Adem (Ilhan), the other member of Fridge who went on to make his own music. For whatever reason, the third member, Sam Jeffers, didn't get back into music, but instead "started a successful web design business while enrolled as a student at Harvard and LSE," according to AllMusic.
posted by filthy light thief at 8:27 AM on January 25, 2013 [4 favorites]

Very talented producer. Stunning music. Wonderful post. Thanks as always filthy light thief!
posted by erebora at 8:28 AM on January 25, 2013

A very nice post.

Also, between There is Love In You and Pink, he released a well-reviewed mix as part of the FabricLIVE mix series. Self-Titled Magazine has put it on Soundcloud for streaming as part of their review.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:31 AM on January 25, 2013

Hey, thanks for filling in a bunch of gaps I had for one of my favorite recording artists. Cheers!
posted by carsonb at 8:34 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Awesome post! Love Four Tet. I used to live with the lady who animated the video for "A Joy".
posted by voiceofreason at 8:38 AM on January 25, 2013

I'm a big fan of There is Love in You, but haven't ventured into his other stuff yet. Thanks for this!
posted by Jacob G at 8:38 AM on January 25, 2013

Also, the 2005 album is called Everything Ecstatic and that review can eat cheese because 'A Joy' is the best thing ever.
posted by carsonb at 8:42 AM on January 25, 2013 [1 favorite]

Smashing post, I will dig into this at the weekend. Love Four Tet.
posted by Happy Dave at 8:43 AM on January 25, 2013

Additionally, he apparently played for a few hours on Rinse FM at the start of January.
posted by Going To Maine at 8:48 AM on January 25, 2013

Madvillain's Four Tet remixes are great, great stuff. Great Day/Accordion/Meat Grinder/Money Folder
posted by eddydamascene at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2013 [3 favorites]

One of the saddest moments in my life was seeing his wedding ring flash in the lights on stage at the Empty Bottle. NOW WHO WILL I MARRY (SOB)

Also, homeboy is a total knob twiddler. See him live if you can. Nod passively at a laptop screen, he does not.
posted by Juliet Banana at 8:49 AM on January 25, 2013

Another band I've been meaning to dig further into after encountering one album. I guess I'll know where to start now (great post!).
posted by immlass at 8:55 AM on January 25, 2013

Great post, thanks

His collaborations w/ Burial and Burial/Thom Yorke, I would say, are also, very, very nice. The FabricLIVE mix is definitely worth checking out, second that

"Happiness" IMHO is very much the best record he's done/been involved w. So good. It really hit the sweet spot between experimentation and accessibility.
posted by J0 at 8:56 AM on January 25, 2013

Great Post, thanks FLT.

I first heard about him with Fridge, which I found a little hit or miss (although I do use one of their songs as my ringtone).

I found There is Love in You to be one of my favourite albums of the year, and I loved loved loved the deep house influence in it.

It's taken me a little longer to get into Pink, but it's slowly growing on me as well.

I'm off to delved deeper into the archive.
posted by sauril at 10:55 AM on January 25, 2013

I finally got to seem him at Moogfest this year. Lovely show. Great post!
posted by HumanComplex at 11:21 AM on January 25, 2013

Very nice - I've sampled a few of the links so far, and it sounds like hours of good listening. Thanks.
posted by RedOrGreen at 12:05 PM on January 25, 2013

Madvillain's Four Tet remixes are great, great stuff.

Rustic 2008 thanks you for the manna.

I've liked Four Tet a lot since hearing his collaborations with Burial. I've have to dig into this tonight.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2013

I wanted to say that Kieran Hebden inad/advertently (if I may pretend that advertently is a word) "outed" William Bevan/Burial (real name reveal /not Richard D James) but a quick wik says that it may have been Joe Goddard (Hot Chip) and they all three Kieran, William, Joe went to the same school anyway so anyway good story
posted by J0 at 1:39 PM on January 25, 2013

He uses (or at least use to use) the audio processing program Audiomulch, for his live shows and recording (and Ableton too). Well worth downloading the trial and having a play around with.
posted by robotot at 2:53 PM on January 25, 2013

Cool. Thanks, robotot.
posted by Rustic Etruscan at 3:06 PM on January 25, 2013

Thanks, I do love his music.
posted by evilDoug at 9:07 PM on January 25, 2013

Thanks for the thorough post. I've got a lot of new leads to follow this weekend.
posted by brism at 4:28 AM on January 26, 2013

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