The flag bearer for dancefloor-orientated electronic music has come up with something rather special for, what I think, is his twelfth proper studio album to date. Reaching, through his ever-forward-glancing soundscapes, to even deeper levels of intimacy, intricity, abstraction & intrigue. Four Tet continues to usher in the Now; way before you even knew it existed.
Utilizing a beguiling and enchanting array of patches, synths, DSP units and the latest computer technology to yield a decidedly humanoid (read: cybernetic) approach to modern commentary and body movement through sound; our trusty technician has once again proven why he's the go-to tastemaker across the dance music global village, whatever particular camp you chose to shake your boots in.
Housed in a fractal-psychedelic sleeve which upon first inspection reveals very little, as the first utterances begin to emanate off the record it's clear Hebden is painting a multidimensional canvas of our current world. Musically and visually it resonates with current moods and emotions, especially as technology continues influence and interact with our daily lives.
After a crystalline and atmospheric opening track, "Baby" rushes through our senses at 5G; a track so quintessentially Four Tet yet unfathomably beautiful you'll curse the producer for not gifting it to us sooner. "Teenage Birdsong", a previously released single relishes in its languid, BOC-esque downbeat electronica while "Romantics" closes off the opening side with a warped but elegant moment of transcendence.
"Love Salad" smothers us delicate rhythmic glitches and morphed pianos, "Insect Near Piha Beach" deploys the mangled electro-acoustic palettes that garnered much of Hebden's early works while "ISTM"'s gentile flurries and ASDR-enveloped stimulation propels us off into dreamlike fantasy worlds unknown to our consciousness.
Side C is a somewhat nocturnal and tranquil affair, with obvious stargazing references contrasted with the whispering fairylike lullabies beamed down from the heavens.
After treating us to such a glorious three sides, Four Tet then leaves jaws floor bound by gifting to us an entire side of locked grooves straight from the stems of the album!!! - Honestly, this is some real treasure folks, ready to mined by Ableton heads, mixed and juggled by 3-deck wizards and used as DJ tools across other tracks; it's an unfathomably classy and fortunate touch that closes off one of the producer's most essential albums to date. 10 / fu**ing 10. Essential.
STAFF COMMENTSBarry says:
All of the whimsy and unmistakable glee that comes from Four Tet's music is here on ‘Sixteen Oceans’. We get the blipping off-kilter synth stabs and dusty nu-rave percussion of ‘Rounds’ or ‘Ringer’, brought together with a smattering of vocal samples (Ellie Goulding on “Baby” is a particular highlight) and the organic, swung congas of the more recent output. “Teenage Birdsong” was an excellent choice for a single, as not only is it the most Four-Tetty cut on the album, but leaves it as a nice surprise for those fans of 2015's 'Morning / Evening' when “Insect Near Piha Beach” emerges as an unsung pick of the crop. As if that wasn't enough, side D of the vinyl pressing has a number of beautiful locked loops, these vignettes beautiful mini-songs in their own right. Never one short of surprises, Hebden once again blows it out of the water.
A4 Teenage Birdsong
B1 Love Salad
B2 Insect Near Piha Beach
B3 Hi Hello
B5 Something In The Sadness
C1 1993 Band Practice
C3 Bubbles At Overlook 25th March 2019
C4 4T Recordings,
C5 This Is For You
C6 Mama Teaches Sanskrit
04 Teenage Birdsong
06 Love Salad
07 Insect Near Piha Beach
08 Hi Hello
10 Something In The Sadness
11 1993 Band Practice
13 Bubbles At Overlook 25th March 2019
14 4T Recordings
15 This Is For You
16 Mama Teaches Sanskrit