There is Love in You
Back in 2005 Kieran "Four Tet" Hebden released Everything Ecstatic, an album that reclaimed techno for people who liked real music. He continued the fevered exploration of that record on subsequent mountain hikes (under his given name) with percussionist Steve Reid, creating the most creative of music, stuff so unfashionable that it almost was jazz. On There is Love in You, his latest record under the Four Tet umbrella, he gathers his snapshots and souvenirs into tidy stacks and reshapes his art back into music for people that still like dance music.
It seems almost foolish to break down this album into tracks; it would be like describing a pie by explaining each rich slice. The album is classic techno: beats and beats and beats and slowly building ambient soundscapes that dare the precipice of racket before continually climaxing in an orgasm of shared bliss. There is even the requisite diva moaning on many of the tracks, in fact it is this voice that maintains the warm humanity of the record. Perhaps you should be reading this review by strobe light.
Our diva coos a cut up version of the album's title in "Angel Echoes" before extracting "love" for the spellbinding 9-minute "Love Cry", a dancefloor trance of galloping rhythm bent of leaving you dehydrated and spent by its conclusion. I expect you could jog all the way to the coffee shop with this in your ears.
There are traces of the "folktronica" his earlier releases were touted to champion: circadian fingerpicked guitar laying the bed of "Circling," a ripple percussive rumble in "Reversing" (resembling the music of Carl Stone, another guy who makes man out of the mud of sound and computers), even the kind of half-rock-half-not in which Radiohead and U2 trade (or maybe "She Just Likes to Fight" just sounds an awful lot like "With or Without You.") Then there are just elegant, simplistic techno songs like "Plastic People" that manage to be heartbreaking without any more context than their enduring, kinda maddening, tiny melody.
How to pin this down... this is not rave material, nor is it a chill room decompression agent. It falls just shy of being tony trip-hop that makes you want to pay too much for a salad or a haircut. Remember the Orb? It's a little like them without being so transparently psychedelic. Ever hear free-jazz titan Alvin Ayler's R&B record New Grass, where the wisdom of the wild is brought in to edify the accessible? No, I guess you haven't. There is Love in You is a meeting of out and the in, the ecstatic and the despondent, the everything and the mundane. It's really beautiful music that only the precision of machinery and the grace of loops can make, and if you still are holding tight to the idea that you don't like dance music, give any one of these songs another minute and your heart will slowly open and your rhythms will realign.
Alex V. Cook listens to everything and writes about most of it. His latest book, the snappily titled Louisiana Saturday Night: Looking for a Good Time in South Louisiana's Juke Joints, Honky-Tonks, and Dance Halls is an odyssey from the backwoods bars and small-town dives to the swampside dance halls and converted clapboard barns of a Louisiana Saturday Night. Don't leave Heathrow without it. His first book Darkness Racket and Twang is available from SideCartel. The full effect can be had at alex v cook.com