Having announced on Twitter earlier this year that Beautiful Rewind would arrive without any YouTube trailers, iTunes stream or Amazon deal, Kieran Hebden’s shunning of all modern promotional tools suggests that he wants his seventh album released under the guise of Four Tet to speak for itself.
Inspired by London’s pirate radio scene, the immersive follow-up to 2012’s Pink is certainly one of the 35-year-old’s more vocal efforts. The crunching synths and percussive beats of “Buchla” begins with an abrasive sample from Rinse FM, the London station he recently took over for a marathon eight-hour set. The similarly grimey techno of “Kool FM” is regularly interrupted by bursts of hype-man chants and industrial breakbeats, while a Middle Eastern-style vocal loop concludes the jittery old-school jungle of opener “Gong.”
This new-found love of dance music’s grittier edge is best showcased on “Parallel Jalebi,” a hypnotic blend of pneumatic drill bass-lines and future-garage rhythms, and the ethereal post-dubstep of “Our Navigation,” both of which would have added fuel to the whole “Four Tet is Burial” conspiracy that briefly engulfed the blogosphere earlier this summer had Hebden not strenuously denied any connection.
But Beautiful Rewind is just as enthralling when it abandons its urban leanings, as on the bewitching closer “Your Body Feels,” a Boards Of Canada-esque fusion of whirring helicopter blades and analog sci-fi synths, and the glitchy IDM of “Crush.” Elsewhere, the “calm before the storm” space age jazz of “Ba Teaches Yoga” and the twinkling gossamer electronica of “Unicorn” are both dreamlike epics which live up to the first half of the album’s title.
With Four Tet’s refusal to adhere to any marketing trends, Beautiful Rewind appears to have landed with virtually no fanfare, which is a shame, as its eleven wildly inventive tracks would easily have merited any hype it received.