Four Tet, Rounds

David Stubbs

By David Stubbs

on 04.22.11 in Reviews
The laptop-folk-jazz of your digital dreams.

2003's Rounds represents the perfect synthesis of Four Tet's — aka Kieran Hebden's — multiple and seemingly irreconcilable musical loves. Hebden's instrument is the computer, yet here he finds a way of feeding into it those most machine-unfriendly of contrasting genres, free jazz and folk. Previously, he had been accused of picking and mixing elements from his record collection. On Rounds, however, he creates a matrix of activity, in which the computer dices, filters and figures out impossible loops and pulses; the jazz elements maintain their jamming spontaneity and insistence on the right here, right now, and the beautiful folk elements maintain their absent reverie. It's some achievement. There's scarcely a duff or lazily repeated moment here amid these hanging sound gardens of fast-fingered gamelan waterfalls, broken beats and unexpected injections of musique concrete. Particularly outstanding, however, are the diaphanous "Spirit Fingers," the controlled, digital frenzy of "Hands" and the stately, episodic "My Angel Rocks Back and Forth."