Four Tet, Everything Ecstatic

Vijith Assar

By Vijith Assar

on 06.15.11 in Reviews
Another labyrinthine classic from Kieran Hebdan

One of Kieran Hebden's more aggressive outings under the Four Tet moniker, Everything Ecstatic veers away from the rustic acoustic guitar loops which, for better or worse, came to represent his earlier work. Here, he replaces those sounds with low-pitched synth rumbles, buried beneath the drum machines like the unrelenting drone of a factory assembly line. There's still a familiar tenderness to the piano-driven reflection "And Then Patterns," but it contrasts heavily with songs like "Joy," on which his usual precise scripting is deliberately blurred and much harder to parse. "Sun Drums and Soil" is the towering success, easily among the best tracks of his career, but it's probably "High Fives" that serves as the best snapshot of this stage in the evolution, with the husky new background grunts meeting infantile xylophone melodies and punctuated by pointedly electronic filters and volume swells. The replay value comes primarily from swimming through all the details, which aren't necessarily intricate, but are impossible to keep track of just the same: fading cymbal crashes and subtly pulsing bass lines seem to pop up everywhere you turn, usually stemming from a starting point four bars back which you missed because, well, there was something else going on back there too.