Kieran Hebden has inevitably become a figurehead for UK folk-tronica. From Fridge to recent free jazz with Steve Reid, with a rump of varied strums and beeps as Four Tet, he’s quickly amassed a large body of work. At times, it’s music capable of making the listener sit back in intimate awe, or dance between the ears despite the everyday. Remixing has become one of Hebden’s hallmarks, and this two disc collection is more than justified.
Disc one is an inevitably incomplete, but inspirationally self-selected collection of re-workings of others. Everything here sounds beautiful or impressive, whether altered dramatically or complimented astutely. By its very nature, Four Tet Remixes is awash with embellishments and transformations. Radiohead’s “SKTTRBRAIN” receives meaty beat and bleep embellishment. Madvillain get tinges of Solaris and Wicker Man on “Money Folder” and “Great Day” respectively. Dumile’s rhymes are twisted adeptly. Zero 7 vocalist Sia Furler’s “Breathe Me” is flipped away from Tori Amos towards Lamb. His Name Is Alive’s “One Year” mangles into a toxic Artful Dodger worthy floor filler.
Beth Orton’s “Carmella” moves away from blessed pre-nuptial into an eleven minute bliss filled mushroom cloud hop. Bloc Party’s “So Here We Are” gets a glitchy folk-symphonic lease of liveliness. The end result is something akin to Orbital, Bono and Kevin Shields fitting the Hubble telescope through shredded vocals. The original was my least favourite song by a band that I like. I think this version is one of the best things they’ve been involved in. I’m most shot down by a track which I’ve never heard in original form though. The take on Pole’s “Heim” from 2000’s collaborative EP exudes poignancy, love and abrasion. I’ve been busy on Amazon.
A second disc collects every remix of Hebden’s work, and the personnel are suitably top notch. The late Jay Dilla and Guilty Simpson turn “As Serious As Your Life” into Magic Kingdom lounge hop. Manitoba/Caribou pastoral auteur Dan Snaith measures “Hilarious Movie of the 90’s” for a suit cut from Mr Dan and Start Breaking My Heart. Long time associate and ex-Text luminary Koushik elevates the same song into meandering but astute wicker music. I’ve got images of attractive New York women in their early thirties and Jeff Buckley in my head from listening to it, and somehow this song has won me over. Koushik also adds a commendable Robert Wyatt gone George Romero angle to “A Joy.” Warp band Battles take to the same song with sand paper abrasion.
Icarus twist “My Angel Rocks Back and Forth” into a continuous concerto with added Autechre nail percussion. The end product is almost a pre-school companion to Bernard Hermann’s work on Vertigo. Boom Bip keep the quality high at the last, as Hollon turns “No More Mosquitoes” into Twilight Zone sludge fun evoking metropolitan areas and Sunday mornings.
Brimming with bright ideas and divergent paths to a good time, this is one of the best collections of its type in recent years. The drastically varied personnel tackled by and tackling the subject make for a cohesive, impressive, and enjoyable listen. I can convince myself that listening to Four Tet Remixes is good for me, and it feels good.
David Holmes – Come Get It I Got It
Aphex Twin – 26 Mixes for Cash
Fila Brazillia – Brazilification