Album of the Week Review :: Four Tet ‘Beautiful Rewind’

October 23rd 2013

beautiful rewind

Ahead of his arrival for Laneway Festival, UK producer Four Tet (aka Kieran Hebden) has decided to drop his seventh album, Beautiful Rewind, with no press release, no streaming, and no film clips… leaving reviewers like me clutching at nothing but the lyric-less tracks. Upon listening, it’s quickly apparent that unlike his expansion into dance in recent years, Beautiful Rewind is a more serious statement than anything he has released yet.

Ever since his debut album 14 years ago, Dialogue, Four Tet has merged his eclectic musical tastes with original electronic production, making him an iconic figure in the electronic scene. Beautiful Rewind sees Hebden experimenting with drum and bass, jungle and grime and mixing it with his longstanding passion for acoustic instrumentation.

The opener ‘Gong’ features, as one might expect, gongs, along with rapid tribal drumming and chimes in what sounds like a pre-electronic take on drum and bass. Hebden seamlessly fuses it with samples and cut-up male and female vocals, bridging more boundaries. Without saying a single word, it’s boy meets girl; old meets new; prehistoric meets futuristic.

In many of the tracks, repetitive cut up vocals cannot be intepreted beyond their tracks titles, like ‘Buchla’ and ‘Your Body Feels.’ The vocals say more through how Hebden has used them throughout the tracks, rather than what is actually said. In effect, these tracks say the unsayable.

The single, ‘Kool FM’, mixes a rapid house beat, grimey vocals (“Hey! Hey! Hey!”), brutally harsh bass and drum filler samples, before elegant strings and marimba shower all that build-up in a glow of importance. The tension remains unresolved, leading you onto the next track for more.

The album also sees Four Tet breaking conventions of song structrure by building tracks up to a point of excitement and inspiration where you would normally expect a bass drop or chorus. But just as you’re ready to bust out, it’s on to the next track. And that’s the magic of what some call ‘intelligent dance music’: rather than making you dance, albums like Beautiful Rewind are designed to make you think.


Beautiful Rewind is out now. FBi’s album of the week: 18.10.13 – 25.10.13


WHAT :: St Jerome’s Laneway Festival

WHO :: Four Tet, Kurt Vile, King Krule, Danny Brown (and many more)

WHERE :: Sydney College of Arts, Rozelle

WHEN :: Sunday 2nd February 2014

HOW MUCH :: $150 + bf from Laneway’s website


Related : In Retrospect :: Four Tet’s ‘Rounds’ (10 years)

Previous Album of the Week Reviews



Read more from FBi Radio