Back in 2017, Four Tet’s principal member, Kieran Hebden, started quietly and anonymously posting tracks on Bandcamp under the particularly hard-to-search-for wingdings moniker ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ. Over the next couple of years, five releases (with equally unintelligible titles and track names) would appear, each one spurring more speculation about their likely maker. With Parallel—his second album of 2020, following the gorgeously soothing Sixteen Oceans—Hebden officially took ownership of those tracks and packaged a handful of them (plus others) as a gift to unwrap on Christmas morning. Alternating between beats that lean toward house, garage, and techno (“Parallel 2,” “Parallel 4,” and “Parallel 8”), and balanced out by all sorts of twinkly, squiggly interstitials, Parallel is the kind of record that begs to be heard on headphones. (Hebden can make the hints of drum ’n’ bass that guide “Parallel 7” as pastoral as the piano and birdsong of “Parallel 9.”) But while these often beatless instrumentals make for pleasant listening, don’t call this an ambient album: Among others here, the 26-minute opening track asks the listener to remain active as it ebbs from swelling pads and found sound into colorful, plinking synths before cascading into its gentle decay.

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