Four Tet – There is Love in You

As difficult as it is not to draw the obligatory comparisons to Kieran Hebden’s prior work, including both his solo work as Four Tet and his contributions to the post-rock band Fridge, doing so would only do injustice to There is Love in You, his newest record released on Domino Records. Hebden’s newest work is a blatant step away from the overt complexity he admired in Richard James and his convoluted Aphex Twin. As if turning a creative corner, Hebden instead draws the inspiration for his newest LP straight from the club floor, more specifically the Plastic People in London, where he recently spent some time doing DJ work, and from his buddy Will Beven and his commendable work as Burial.

Don’t be mistaken, however; There is Love in You is far from an Untrue with a bunch of strobe lights. Rather, it is a series of accessible rhythms that are just as innovative as they are unchallenging. As easy as it is for critics to parade accessibility like a scarlet letter upon the chests of those artists who generally fall out of favor with the more “intellectual” listeners, the familiar rhythms of There is Love in You should instead be heralded with open arms and eager ears. This is not for restless mathy types to meticulously count beats, nor is it for the critical reader to fiddle through the CD fold-out in a wild goose chase for lyrical symbolism. The album’s value lies instead in the organic feel Hebden breathes into music scenes that are dominated by the brashness of electronics. This is techno with an earthen feel, electro sans vitro.

Hebden chooses to open this record with “Angel Echoes,” a song that reflects a hint of this organic sound, but within a familiar dubstep body. Follower “Love Cry” sounds like pure house; the pulsating electronics reflect the darkness of a club dance floor and the bass beat invokes one to do what comes naturally in such a place, all behind a female voice sensually singing “Love cry(/me).” The last couple minutes of this track, however, mark where the album takes a true stylistic turn; an acoustic guitar line is sampled both near and at the end of the track, allowing a proper transition into the next song, “Circling.”

“Circling” sounds like it was inspired by a forest filled with life; the song literally chimes with lively melody over a folk-inspired guitar line and subtle sampled vocals. “This Unfolds” is similar; the melody is delicate, dreamy, and pretty, invoking visions of a forest dimly illuminated by soft morning sunlight. Nearly every song from this point on feels much warmer, even much more intimate, than those by similar artists. By uniting the hedonism of electric beats with the pristine delicacy of nature, the music becomes serene and beautiful and yet simultaneously active. Hebden’s take on the electronic world is unique for the way in which it draws influences from outside of the cramped, dark dance floor to make sensational music that reflects light and nature rather than darkness and synthetics.

If there is any recurring flaw to be found on this record, it is that every track tends to lack a visible climax. Song after song tend to more or less consist of a gradual ascension as the music becomes more complex, then a subsequent descent before concluding. Rarely, if ever, do the songs reach a plateau and the apex of the song is not apparent until after it has passed. Because of this, songs seem to end too soon, without exploiting their full potential.

There is Love in You is remarkable in that it is incredibly simple, yet at the same time variegated and rich. Hebden brings his chops to the table to reinvent the techno/house scene as he sees fit. Everywhere from opener “Angel Echoes” to “Sing” to “Plastic People,” the melody stays rooted in its intention to sound danceable and active, but at the same time breathes with a pensive vitality. In this sense, There is Love in You sounds like a beating heart; it pulses consistently, but every pulse pumps life into a whole that is capable of greater things. The kick beat keeps your body moving, but the music itself exhorts you to explore a higher place.

by Mason “Feel the beat” McGough

1 Comment

  1. New Reviews! « Avery Island: Musical Opinions From Music Geeks said,

    […] Four Tet – There is Love in You, by Mason McGough […]

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