Album Reviews

Four Tet – Ringer

(Domino) UK release date: 21 April 2008


Weighing in at just four tracks but nearly 30 minutes long, Ringer sits halfway between being an EP and an album, exploiting the freedom Domino has to let its artists do what they hell they like. And with artists as talented as Four Tet’s Kieran Hebden, it’s a very good job they do.

Our Kieran has been prolifically busy of late, recording under his own name, as the one-man band Four Tet, and with veteran jazz drummer/percussionist Steve Reid, but on Ringer he’s going back to basics, returning to the bedroom laptop noodling we loved him for in the first place.

Ringer’s repetitive beats and circling swirls take us up before Ribbons dips into a melting ambient folktronica chill-out, rippling out from your blissful mind as it tickles the edges of high register then pulls out drumming techniques recently learned from Steve Reid.

Swimmer’s more sonic assault is the beginning of the first wave of comedown, uncomfortable at the edges in a way that’s just ever so slightly irritating, slipping out of harmony and into art noise before it starts to rise once again.

There’s an aural beauty here that’s raw and visceral, never easy listening but always interesting and always worthwhile. In final track Wing Body Wing, Hebden really shows off the tricks he’s learned from Reid, with glockenspiel-type percussive toning that would make Steve Reich proud, as though he’s accidentally imported the wrong technique file from his A-Z of percussion samples. They would be next to each other in the library, after all.

The result is sublime, lost somewhere between a 3.00am Ibiza beach party, the Royal Festival Hall and the best soundtracked bedroom in the whole damn world. It’ll keep us going until the next one, at least.


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