Four Tet: New Energy

- Four Tet has been around for a lot of years now. Did you know that when the artist also known as Kieran Hebden started out he wasn’t actually an edm artist? All the way back at the turn of the millennium, that guy was moseying about with sauntering downtempo and arty, instrumental hip hop. Along with chaps like Caribou’s Dan Snaith the beats were more like Bonobo and the Ninja Tune roster than arty dance moves more suited to labels like Hyperdub or Planet Mu.

Not that either Four Tet or Caribou have moved on to those labels. Both seem singularly unphased by record labels, contracts or whatever, these days. They just move from headline slot to headline slot at festival after festival and the kids (younger and older) lap it up. If Hebden is quite happy releasing stuff on his own label, Text, through Bandcamp and not even concerned with people noticing him picking up cheques for remixing the likes of Sia and Rihanna, he does, as it happens, feel a pang of nostalgia for the past.

So much is certainly the most obvious feature of his brand new record, New Energy. There must be a subtle touch of irony in choosing that name, because, for the first time in a very long time, Four Tet is again trotting out some downtempo beats. He’s steered so vehemently away from them for so many years, I always assumed that he was angry that, as a downtempo artist he couldn’t really make a go of it (and who could?). So, he turned his back, in a bitter if canny gesture, shifting wholly to the reliable edm touring circuit.

Is it finally being able to let go of the past, this new energy? Reaching a point where he’s artistically free enough, emotionally comfortable enough to say hey - this is who I was and this is all that I am. Call me a sap, but it’s a rather wonderful thought and it fits so happily with what is a really accessible, embracing record.

From its slowest, gentlest ebbs, to its occasionally complex syncopations and its winged rushes of dance beats, this is never thorny or unwelcoming. Neither is it too easy, pandering or overly commercial. It’s like the best Tycho record you could imagine, without the occasional overdoses of valium or new-age spiritualism.

I’ll be honest with you, after the initial shock of losing the artist I knew as Four Tet, I’ve often envied the path Kieran Hebden has taken. At first I missed songs like No More Mosquitos and She Moves She, but then, even when there were moments where I didn’t fully engage with his dancefloor choices, I always felt like Four Tet was one of the better futures in indie music. New Energy feels like finally having it all. Time will move on and this will just be another bright light of nostalgia, but I want to dwell in the perfect newness of this record for as long as possible.

- Chris Cobcroft.

Album Details

Album Title: New Energy
Artist: Four Tet
Record Label: (Text)