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Sunday, May 22, 2005


Four Tet: "Everything Ecstatic"

As the title of his third album implies, Keiren Hebden's laptop jazz (my description, not his) has a definite reactive purpose, which is to make you happy by any means necessary, but mainly through his manipulation of what is certainly techno's biggest catalog of electronic percussion and drum samples.

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Though Hebden's reputation as Four Tet is based on his ability to construct complete, original melodies out of snippets of guitar and keyboard, it's his rhythmic sense that puts the "Smile Around the Face," as one track title phrases it. Built on top of a looped manic drum solo, the 6 1/2-minute "Sun Drums and Soil" comes at you in waves of tonal colors that seem to feed on their own energy.

In the almost totally synthetic "Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions," Hebden moves from playful blips to a stuttery Asian percussion pattern that morphs into a symphony of indistinct voices and beats rising inexorably up to the heavens. The desired reaction may be a religious one: If you aren't ecstatic by this point, then there's probably no hope for you.

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