10x10: Four Tet + Support (10 Yrs of MIF & The Warehouse Project)
Mayfield Depot, Manchester
Friday 17th July
This years Manchester International Festival’s program features two collaborations with Manchester’s own Warehouse Project. Two nights of live music and DJs at Mayfield Depot, a massive abandoned warehouse space in the heart of the city centre. The first being Four Tet live in concert, supported by New York based Tyondai Braxton and the Glaswegian producer and DJ Koreless. The performances marking 10 years of the Warehouse Project in Manchester.
As we arrived Koreless had just started playing, unfortunately to a very small crowd, the venue is a huge 1800 capacity warehouse with two sets of giant pillars creating a corridor down the middle, it was however a beautiful location to hear Koreless’s dreamy combination of post dubstep tracks like MTI and Lost In Tokyo and also Koreless’s newest material i.e the much more cinematic 2013 Yugen EP. The Highlight of his set certainly being Sun off that very EP.
Koreless’s long, building and highly cinematic tracks filled with rolling bass and glorious synths would of perfectly built up to Four Tet’s performance, instead unfortunately he was billed first, before even, the more unknown Tyondai Braxton, who’s glitchy set later on in the night would, for me, break up the rhythm of the cnight slightly. Koreless is a producer and performer used to headlining his own tours and filling club and festival stages across the UK and Europe. Although the crowd for his set was probably not actually that small, within the vast scale of the venue it felt very sparse, it was clear that the venue would not truly fill up until just before Four Tet’s live set, which was probably expected, but none the less, slightly disappointing, as Koreless treated those who did come early to a gorgeous array of sounds.
Tyondai Braxton came on next. The American producer and performer has been creating music under his own name since the mid 1990s and releasing his experimental brand of glitchy production under Warp records as the creator of the experimental Rock group Battles. His performance was my first introduction to his own music. Braxton’s music seems hugely interested in the way that sounds work off of each other and much less about a regular beat or using any kind of systematic BPM. Braxton’s glitchy industrial and sometimes highly abrasive sounds did sounded fantastic on the system put in place at Mayfield Depot and the best moments of his set made full use of the low end bass frequencies that rumbled through the crowd.
Here would be a good time to briefly mention the Now Wave DJs who played throughout the night in-between sets, and while Four Tet’s equipment was set up. They did a great job and snuck in some great selections from Aphex Twin, Bicep, Daphni and Kowton’s absolute killer Glock and Roll, the small 15 minute set in-between Braxton’s and Four Tet’s set did a lovely job at hyping the crowd. It was a amazing moment to certainly turn around to a huge crowd all ready for Kieran’s appearance.
Having seen Four Tet perform live before and been blessed enough to have watched him grace the decks at London’s Fabric for a unbelievable 4 hour set I had some expectations of what Kieran might play but some of his selections surprised me and proves that you can never second guess him or his musical choices. I honestly believe that there are few performers/DJs out there who can hold a room captive like Four Tet. Over the years Four Fet’s music and direction has changed dramatically, moving away from the more ‘studio based’ albums which gave us legendary tracks like As Serious As Your Life Gets or Love Cry as well as dozens more. In more recent times his tracks and focus has been more aimed towards the club environment. Spending more time on club ready remixes, releasing bass driven music under the pseudonym Percussions and generally gearing his live performances towards the techno end of the musical spectrum.
This combination of dance music and more ambient studio work is the reason Four Tet can control a room so effortlessly. Dipping you in and out of each, building you up with signature vocal loops and stand out percussion only to drop you straight into bass driven tracks like Buchla off his release Beautiful Rewind or Percussions' KHLHI which were both played to devastating effect. Four Tet’s track selections favoured more towards his newer releases and creations, including the hugely underrated coloration with dubstep pioneer Martyn with the track Glassbeadgames (8 Hours at Fabric Dub) which was one of my highlights of his entire set. He also played a section of his newest creation, a two track album simply titled Morning side and Evening side. Each track lasting 20 minutes each and taking the listener on a musical journey. It is one of the first Four Tet releases to clearly be influenced by his cultural roots. The A-side to this creation, Morning Side features a looped vocal spoken in Hindi taken from some classical Indian music. It was a joy to hear nearly 6 minutes of his track in a club setting, providing another stand out moment. Visually the performance was absolutely unbelievably too, with great effort gone into the visuals from Four Tet’s performance. As well as the standard venue lighting you would expect from a Warehouse Project show, Kieran was backed by a giant cascade of lights which went back 6 rows deep and created a giant cube of hanging lights. Those mapped and controlled in time with the music was simply beautiful to watch.
I have enjoyed and listened to Four Tet’s music since first discovering electronic music, in that time he has grown as a producer and a performer and is without a doubt one of electronic music’s true greats. Somebody who has clearly mastered both the home listener and the club environment. Friday night’s performance was perfect evidence of the journey Kieran has taken himself on musically throughout the years of performing as Four Tet, and honestly I think he is still at his best. The fact is most recent concert at Brixton Academy which is not until October 16th sold out in 3 minutes is proof that other people think so too.
Words by Stan Platford
Image courtesy of The Warehouse Project