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Essential Listening: Four Tet

Essential Listening: Four Tet

Jonathan Coll | Features & Interviews

It’s fantastic news that Four Tet, real name Kieran Hebden, is back on the scene. Having recently announced several live dates, an album and a handful of festival appearances he is once again ready to bend minds and capture hearts. His slot at Annie Mac’s Lost and Found suggests he may be coming to a dancefloor near you this summer, and you would be well advised to get yourself along.
The man can play grime, garage, house and bass. I’ve seen him spin ambient tunes, techno, funk, soul and just about everything else. He’s a man for every occasion and it’s difficult to think of a DJ on the circuit with a wider understanding of music, or a deeper appreciation of it.

This is all supported by his own extensive catalogue. New Energy marks his 9th album, alongside numerous releases under other aliases and contributions to the “Late Nite Tales” and Fabric mix series’. Not to mention countless edits and bootlegs that may have slipped under the radar. Here are five that you need to acquaint yourself with.

“BACK2THESTART”, an absolutely riotous remix of a Cheryl Cole hit, arrived as an unknown garage tune and will be remembered as a moment in which Four Tet brought contemporary music into the underground. He’s an unashamed lover of pop tunes, with Justin Bieber tracks regularly featuring in his DJ sets.

Two Thousand and Seventeen
There have been few more pleasant surprises than when Four Tet’s “Two Thousand and Seventeen” dropped this year. The track is the first cab off the rank from his recent album, New Energy. It dropped in the middle of a summer which was already home to some incredible music. Its driving bassline and melodic strings were as exciting as anything else that came before or after it. As a producer, DJ and live performer he is up there with the best in the industry.

Digital Arpeggios
He’s equally prolific under his Percussions moniker. As the name would suggest, this is often where you can find his more industrial and experimental cuts. “Blatant Water Cannon” and “KHLHI” were two of the hits of 2014. Percussions left an indelible mark with “Digital Arpeggios”, as simple as it is beautiful, it's testament to his ability to master the basics.

If you’ve spent any time getting familiar with Four Tet’s records it’s inevitable you’ll end up with a few personal favourites. His sound has shifted throughout the years. If you’re a fan of his, it’s possible to chart your own personal experiences alongside his more memorable releases. For me, his collaborations with Burial are the pinnacle. “Nova” somehow lifting Burial’s melancholic sound to something approaching euphoria. It works as well on the dancefloor as it does on the nightbus; as atmospheric as it is energising.

There’s an incredible amount to get to grips with. “Question” is probably the best place to begin, having made its way into the hands of the country’s leading selectors at the tail end of the summer. But with the nights drawing in it’s a good time to get acquainted with Four Tet, before a summer he will play a huge part in.

Four Tet plays at Old Granada Studios for The Warehouse Project and Now Wave in February, but tickets for that have unsurprisingly already been snapped up. If, however, you fancy a trip to Malta in May for Annie Mac Presents… Lost & Found Festival, you can catch him there alongside Jamie xx, J Hus, The Black Madonna and more.

Photo courtesy of Four Tet

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Essential Listening: Four Tet

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