Saturday, September 23, 2006

Dummy Blog Album of the Week: 'Remixes' by Four Tet

Here we have Kieran Hebden's personal favourites from over forty remixes that he's done over the last five years. Forty's a lot but this compilation shows he's no hack. I'm going to go through it track by track because, why not? Incidentally there's a second disc of remixes of, not by, Four Tet, but I haven't heard it.

Lars Horntveth – Tics I submit that Hebden murdered this song and then disposed of its corpse in the only way he knows how: cutting it up into as many tiny pieces as possible and throwing them down a well. Listening is an exercise in forensics: every clink, thump, squeak and sigh is a clue. Suspicion may fall on Farben or Icarus, but in the end it can only be one man. Familiarise yourself with his MO because you will see it again.

Radiohead – Skttrbrain A dream-team, but then so was Radiohead and DJ Shadow, and the resulting remix of 'The Gloaming' turned out to be rubbish. This is better, but still not as good as Zero 7's dub of 'Climbing Up The Walls'. I wonder how many times Thom Yorke has begged Richard D. James for a remix.

Madvillain – Money Folder Inexplicably the EP of remixes by Four Tet and Stones Throw's Koushik of Madlib and MF Doom's Madvillainy was only ever made available on vinyl and from iTunes, so it went almost unnoticed. The psych-rock guitars under moth-eaten breaks reminded me of Dangermouse's The Grey Album, and prove that when Four Tet and Koushik turn to hip hop they can be as imaginative as Madlib himself. (Actually Hebden's always said that Pause and Rounds were about hip hop stealing from folk, not the other way round. I seem to remember that part of the reason he originally decided to do a solo project was that no one else in Fridge liked Busta Rhymes.) This track, the best of the bunch with its grainy, ominous vintage synth riff, has already been compiled on the Four Tet edition of Late Night Tales.

His Name Is Alive – One Year This is the revelatory hallucination a So Solid Crew instrumental B-side might have in the last moments before a premature death brought on by an accidental overdose of laudanum.

Sia – Breathe Me Nice enough, and unusually crisp percussion for Mr Hebden, but not nearly as good as either the heart-breaking original track, as used at the very end of Six Feet Under, or Ulrich Schnauss' cosmic remix.

Aphex Twin – Untitled I've never had quite the same reverence as everyone else for the Aphex Twin's copious Ambient Works. In fact I've always thought they could do with a swift kick up the arse, and here they get one from a remix that sounds very much like something off Four Tet's debut Dialogue. Nothing happens, but then that's in keeping with the original.

Madvillain – Great Day Because a Four Tet album without those reversed acoustic guitar licks wouldn't be a Four Tet album.

Bonobo – Pick Up Like many of my album reviews, this is a commentary only tangentially related to its subject matter. Four Tet discards the original's priapic jazz flute and keeps only a few stubs of keyboard and guitar, building the rest of the track out of an obdurate double bass and some astonishing drums. Getting excited about drums is probably something only boys do, and only a certain type of boy at that, but these ones really are fucking cool. Nobody seems to know where they're sampled from, and I can't even hazard a guess. Some producers would practically base a career on finding a sample that good but Hebden just leaves it for somebody else's B-side.

Rothko – Roads Become Rivers Now we know where Lucky Pierre, aka Arab Strap's Aidan Moffat, bit his style from.

Beth Orton – Carmella A tad too Radio 2, and in no way justifies its two-minute bloat. This pairing is capable of much better: 'Beautiful World', also produced by Hebden, the B-side to Orton's single 'Anywhere', is the best thing she's ever done. Get on Soulseek right now.

Bloc Party – So Here We Are When I found out that Mogwai, Four Tet and M83 were remixing Bloc Party, I was as excited as a small child who sees a dog wearing a monocle, only to be crushed when all three remixes sounded like they'd been made in the three-minute ad-break in the middle of Young, Posh and Loaded. (The remainder of the remixes album was no better: good grief, what a wasted opportunity.) Listening to this again, knowing it's supposedly one of Hebden's favourites, I still don't get it. He lays a woolly blanket of static over the top of my favourite Bloc Party song, even while the song is saying 'No, Mum, it's fine, I'm not even cold.' If I was remixing this, knowing that the track is about going to techno nights at the Camden Palace and taking ecstasy, I would of course make it into a thumping dancefloor destroyer. Maybe they should get Trentemoller on the case.

Pole – Heim In 2000 Four Tet released a split EP with Pole where they each contributed one track and then each remixed the other's track, much like the recent Ellen Allien/Audion 12”. It's forgettable, and the time-stretched piano here isn't as good as the one on 'Cradle', the neglected B-side to first Rounds single 'She Moves She'.

yet another 7/10

Released 25/9 on Domino

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