Four Tet – Pink Four Tet – Pink

Kieran Hebden’s ability to absorb and emulate new sounds and themes continues to amaze. His brilliantly eclectic taste in music (which takes in everything from techno and house to jazz and ambient) has been influencing his output as Four Tet for years now, but it was only on 2010’s There Is Love In You that it really felt like Hebden had given us a complete and cohesive summary of not only his style, but of the varying genres that influence what is, essentially, an ever-changing project. His subsequent collaborations with Burial and Thom Yorke only served to support the notion that Hebden is a musical sponge. Listening to each Four Tet record, it’s not particularly hard to work out what types of records Hebden was listening to at the time. Most of his albums can be pegged as Hebden going through certain ‘phases’, and whilst this can mean that they vary in consistency somewhat, it’s always a pleasure with each new release to hear what music is getting one of the UK’s most important producers excited.

All of which means that Pink – Hebden’s sixth album as Four Tet – is somewhat of an anomaly. Composed of several split singles spanning back to March 2011 as well as a smattering of new material, it could just about be described as a new album, let alone a snapshot of Hebden’s ever-changing tendencies.

There is certainly no more clarity to be found upon listening to Pink. On the one hand, Hebden offers up low key tech-house numbers like ‘Lion’ and the shimmering ‘Jupiters’- whose clipped vocals and skipping 2 step beat hide what is probably Hebden’s most bass-heavy moment on the entire album- and on the other there are genuine moments of bliss when each element clicks into place, culminating in tracks which you suspect will be fan favourites for years to come – see the shuffling funk of ‘Locked,’ a quintessentially Four Tet-sounding Four Tet song.

That said, there are only a couple of moments on Pink where Hebden really utilises the creativity that we know he has. Of the few there are though, ‘Pyramid’ perhaps stands out the most, taking the dancefloor sensibilities that we’ve heard before (on the likes of ‘Sing’ and ‘Plastic People’) and wrapping them up in a thumping techno number whose euphoria moment shines all the brighter thanks to the tracks threatening “I remember how you walked away” lyric. Hebden’s jazz tendencies also get a look in on the pleasurably claustrophobic ‘Pinnacles,’ all monotonous double-bass and lounge piano before a splash of fuzzy percussion and keys.

Perhaps what is most frustrating about Pink is the frequency with which it is possible to tune out entirely from tracks at times – something which is particularly disappointing for an artist who is known to suck the listener in. Indeed there are no awful or even pretty bad moments on Pink, but there are times when Hebden steps into a new sound entirely – and it’s then that he threatens to wander. ‘Peace For Earth’ is an 11 minute ambient number that is most aptly described as background music, whilst the stuttering ‘Ocoras’ is an unashamed pillaging of the works of Kompakt label boss Axel Willner (with a healthy dose of Gold Panda’s ‘Vanilla Minus’ thrown in).

Pink may not strictly be a ‘new’ Four Tet release, but it is still a Four Tet release – and as such there are moments that most fans should be able to appreciate, if not completely take to their hearts. The cut and paste feel of Pink‘s tracklisting kills any idea of cohesion or thread, but it’s still good to know that Hebden shows no signs of limiting his musical scope, even if – on this evidence – his sights may need tweaking a bit.

1. Locked
2. Lion
3. Jupiters
4. Ocoras
5. 128 Harps
6. Pyramid
7. Peace For Earth
8. Pinnacles

Four Tet - Pink, reviewed by Lemon on 2012-09-10T11:17:07-07:00 rating 3.4 out of 5

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