About Four Tet
Late-’90s London was a dynamic time and place for electronic music: Styles were colliding at an unprecedented pace, and a young Kieran Hebden wasted no time getting involved. He was just 20 when his muscular post-rock outfit, Fridge, signed to Trevor Jackson’s influential Output label in 1997. But the following year, he began pursuing an even more distinctive sound with his electronic solo project, Four Tet. Hebden’s breakbeats weren’t the same ones most dance producers used, and instead of choosing obviously electronic sounds, he opted for warm samples of jazz and folk: reedy horns, harps, unidentifiable instruments from dusty world-music bins. And since the start, he’s remained remarkably true to that singular vision. Hebden began perfecting his sound with 2001’s Pause and 2003’s Rounds—a breezy, brightly colored take on downtempo notable for its pastoral qualities. By 2008’s Ringer EP, recorded at the height of house and techno’s minimalist boom, he began gravitating toward the dance floor, channeling finely honed percussive sounds into rippling rhythms, and 2010’s ecstatic, full-bodied There Is Love in You married his colorful psychedelic sensibilities to his taste in DJ cuts. (“Plastic People” is named for a beloved underground London nightclub Hebden frequented.) In the years since, Four Tet’s music has grown more daring (2015’s Morning/Evening is a 40-minute, two-track meditation on Hindi film music) and doggedly focused on making people dance (“Kool FM” is a rollicking, jungle-sampling tribute to London’s pirate-radio legacy). Though his wide-ranging collaborations (Katy B, Burial, the late free-jazz drummer Steve Reid) and remixes of everyone from Aphex Twin to Omar Souleyman have allowed him to fold an ever-growing array of ideas into his world, Hebden continues to sound like nobody but himself—and, try as they might, no one else sounds quite like him.