Domino - 2003 - 45 minutes
The "folktronica" genre that Four Tet pioneered with their debut release has been seized by many (including Dublin's own Chequerboard) as a template for melodic musical experimentation. Compromised of one man, Kieran Hebden, who was previously prolific with his school band, Fridge, Four Tet is a project that takes the experimentation of Fridge and combines it with a lush sound palette.
The result is 'Rounds', the eagerly awaited follow-up to 'Pause', an album that saw Four Tet's profile rocket, winning him coveted support slots with Radiohead in the process.
'She Moves She' establishes a muscular beat before adding an overlay of plaintive guitar and a bunch of digitally scratched samples in the style of Prefuse 73. The result is shimmering, off-kilter beauty where the whole outshines the sum of its parts.
After this epic sweep, the 2001 atmospherics of 'First Things' sounds almost inconsequential. 'Serious As Your Life' is bedded on propulsive bass and handclaps and does a pretty good job making the avant garde sound like a lot of fun while the minor-key arpeggios of 'And They Look Brokenhearted' sound almost Japanese in their mournful abstraction.
By the time 'Rounds' sweeps towards 'Slow Jam', an enormous closing number that would make his headliners Radiohead green with envy, it is obvious that Kieran Hebden has achieved something very difficult, making experimental music that also engages the emotions.
Tracklisting: Hands - She Moves She - First Thing - My Angel Rocks Back & Forth - Spirit Fingers - Unspoken - Chia - As Serious As Your Life - And They All Look Broken Hearted - Slow Jam