Thirty-five-year-old Kieran Hebden’s seventh album as Four Tet, Beautiful Rewind, is some of the filthiest electronic music this side of what’s not on your radio station. For over 15 years Hebden has crafted a niche sound that has attracted remixes and collaborations by acts as diverse as Madvillain, Radiohead, and Burial. Beautiful Rewind is still full of the minimal evocative abstractions that have come to be synonymous with Tet’s sound, but the bpms have been rev’d up, and the mix sounds like it’s been submerged in cement on particular songs (this a good thing). It should be subtitled Too Dirty For Your Dance Floor, as Four Tet balances some guttural compositions alongside some that are very serene and internally expansive.
Early on the album “Parallel Jalebi” has this rickety blip that rolls over these subtle yet pronounced kicks as a warped vocal chops glides over spaces of eight bars. It’s like Traps studious and calmer cousin. Beautiful Rewind’s fifth track, “Kool FM” is pure unadulterated house music with an elastic bass line that patiently skitters into the speakers for over two minutes then smashes down with rapid snares and encouraging vocal drops. Its hollowed-out and militant sound even has traces of jungle in its tempo. Later “Buchla”, maybe an ode to Don Buchla, is full of heavy low end and reverb. If that song doesn’t make you wanna shake your ass, you may be destined to be a wallflower for your remaining years on earth. Yet my personal favorite is “Aerial”, a futuristic concoction of Brazilian groove, ominous noise, and a multitude sounds clattering, revolving, and fluctuating against each other. It feels like theme music for an action sequence in movie about agitated celluloid intelligence.
Four Tet’s seventh long player is not a revelation nor ground-breaking, it’s simply very good music. Even against some of the album’s quieter and more reflective moments like the elegant “Unicorn” or the quixotic “Crush”, Beautiful Rewind never sounds like a collection of songs. The album falls into its altering directions very easily. As usual with Tet’s music, some will be put off by his ambient use of negative space and percussion-less songs (“Ever Never” and “Our Navigation”). Yet those moments don’t weigh the album down into numbing electronic self-indulgence. This is quality instrumental dance music that should make its way into your commuting or weekend playlist. Lastly, shake your ass and make your shoulders bounce as it plays through your sound system.
3.5 out of 5
You can purchase Beautiful Rewind on Amazon.