- Audio CD (Feb. 24 2003)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Domino
- ASIN: B000092Q6L
- Other Editions: Audio CD | LP Record | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 24 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #133,622 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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|2. She Moves She|
|3. First Thing|
|4. My Angel Rocks Back and Forth|
|5. Spirit Fingers|
|8. As Serious As Your Life|
|9. And They All Look Broken Hearted|
|10. Slow Jam|
Four Tet is Kieran Hebden, and he has released eight albums between his solo Four Tet work and band efforts as Fridge. Rounds is a beautiful montage of shuffling percussion, piano, guitar and folktronic excursions. 10 tracks. Domino. 2003.
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Quantatively, it seems 45 mins of music is shortchanging we music-loving punters. Qualitatively, there are some great tracks - stand-outs for me are 'My Angel Rocks Back and Forth', 'Spirit Fingers' and 'Slow Jam' - love that squeaky toy punctuating a track that makes much of so little, this latter track being my shining light and a great way to end the CD.
Does it hang together and is it as fantastic as some others obviously think? I would agree with an early reviewer that it feels a bit unfinished. Would overall rate this as a 'work in progress', but look forward to changing my view on repeated listens.
My review of Oval's 94 Diskont (a much more consistent and engaging glitch-journey) says that it "sucks you into its warped world-view". This CD has more of a "perverse world view". Reminded me a bit of 'The League of Gentlemen' translated from TV screen to CD! Just listen to the driven, anarchic audacity of 'Spirit fingers' to get a sense of this.
Good CD to add to a collection of 'electronica that rocks oddities'.
UPDATE: After a few weeks of continued listening, the tracks that had annoyed me started to make more sense. Am still not convinced that 'Unspoken' deserves its 9 & 1/2 minute lifespan though - the 'development' section in the middle doesn't add enough to the lack of development going on elsewhere for me. Also have no idea what the seemingly meaningless meanderings of 'Chia' (thankfully brief) add to the album - especially compared with the other 'interlude' track 'First Thing', which provides a smooth and useful link between the standouts 'She moves she' (have grown to love the juxtaposition of the jagged guitar interjections with the gentler oriental swagger of the main theme) and 'My Angel Rocks Back and Forth' - this latter track alone makes the cd worth buying. 'And they all look brokenhearted', while not a standout track, has enough going on to be a useful precursor to 'Slow Jam'.
This cabernet is mellowing with age for me. Might have to lay it down for a while.
The scope of Four Tet records may remain the same, but there's no doubt in my mind that Hebden keeps getting better with each release. Four Tet's latest effort proves that he is growing artistically, and is continuing to elaborate on the marriage of synthetic and organic sounds. The samples used on Rounds are now more influenced by jazz than folk, and are the key components to discussing this album. The manipulated tape loops and samples of children's voices are just as prevalent here as they have been in the past. Obviously, Hebden is now more concerned by conveying a certain mood, rather than seeing how many times a hundred samples can be manipulated. This is the heart of the album, and in the end, makes for a much superior sound.
Take the intro track, "Hands," for example. Hebden's maturity level is at its height here. It begins with the simple sound of a heartbeat that is gently taken over by the soothing sounds of a jazz ensemble. Have no fear, though, because just behind all this is one of the hardest beats I've heard him use in quite some time. I would also venture to say it's his best track yet. One of the elements that remain the same on Rounds is the use of the harp. The harp has been an incessant part of Hebden's repertoire, as it adds to the element of serenity that makes Four Tet albums so enjoyable. "As Serious as Your Life" is a bit of a departure from the rest of the album; it's not as sophisticated as the rest of the songs. The last song, "Slow Jam" gives a warm nod to his other band, Fridge. With the main focus being set on the guitar, and a gentle sample of baby's voices, it wouldn't be much of a stretch to say that this song wouldn't be out of place on their last album, Happiness.
One could argue that this album has been made a hundred times, but the difference here is that the samples make the album. Structurally, yes, it has been made before, but somehow Hebden continues to dig up and create some of the best samples around. The beats and samples never appear to sound forced. It's this seamless marriage that helps pull everything together for Rounds.
If you've appreciated any of Four Tet's albums in the past, have no fear that you will be more than happy with the new album. If Hebden is just getting started (and getting better with each album), who knows what's in store for us in the future. All I can say is that he remains consistent, and Rounds will more than likely be the album that moves him a little closer to mainstream fans. Once Radiohead has pulled you in, there's no turning back as to how far you can go. For Hebden, the real challenge will be to show how many times he can improve on the same ideas. Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to to go listen to that incredible first song again.
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