Electronic music seems to be that one genre that only comes up when people mention artists like Skrillex or Daft Punk. However, there are many electronic musicians that expand their boundaries beyond just the average areas of dubstep and techno. Artists such as Kieran Hebden have proven that electronic music can have flavors of other musical styles and still be relevant. Hebden, better known as Four Tet, has been creating beats, sounds and electronic patterns of music for well over a decade. He has dabbled in areas of post-rock music, acid jazz, ambient and minimalist techno while keeping those electronic sensibilities in his music. On his latest release, “Beautiful Rewind,” Four Tet comes full circle with a string of beats that draws from the past, present and future.
The album opens up with “Gong,” a rhythmic yet downtempo piece that shows off Hebden’s ability to sample vocals and mix them in with the track. The song has a repeated bell noise in the background and very light drums that mix in with the vocals to create a lush and striking landscape. “Parallel Jalebi” has a nice break in the middle that gives the listener a taste of what Hebden can do with his compositions. The first part of the song has repeated vocals that are very light and airy alongside some nice off-kilter drums. The song transitions to a pause and then picks back up with an array of small clinks and bubbly electronics before rewinding to the former, creating a great dynamic in the piece. Hebden seems to have taken bits and pieces of his past works and placed them on this album. This is prevalent on the songs, “Kool FM” and “Buchla.” “Kool FM” starts off with a sonic mix of dubstep sounds and jazz-inspired drums and fuses them with what sounds like a siren. The track progresses into a hip-hop-inspired jam that sounds like it could have come out of the ’80s disco rap era. On “Buchla,” Hebden utilizes his drum and bass techniques while infusing male and female vocal samples that are layered repetitively, making it the hardest hitting song on the album.
While the album is a nice mix of sounds, it hits a slight fault on the tracks “Ba Teaches Yoga” and “Crush.” These songs feel very repetitive in the way the sounds are layered and the atmosphere provided by them, especially on “Ba Teaches Yoga.” It doesn’t give the listener a change of pace and keeps the same ambient-esque synth sounds for the entire three minutes. Despite the lack of variety on these songs, the album picks back up on “Unicorn.” This is a beautifully scattered composition of pitch-shifted synthesizers bursting with color that give the album a sense of personality and a switch from the other songs on it.
“Beautiful Rewind” sees Four Tet staying true to his electronic roots while continuing to advance with his sound. I recommend this album for anyone who is looking for a different flavor of instrumentation and dynamic beats.
Nicholas Ventura is a senior at West Seneca West High School.