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Positive Feedback ISSUE 63
september/october 2012


Sonic Satori - Four Tet's Pink, Brought Me Back to the After-Party
by Michael Mercer

I love Four Tet, so I guess that throws objectivity right out the fuckin' window. However; given my deep love and admiration for Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) and Fridge, his former band, that also means I have unreasonably high expectations when I hear a new Four Tet album! That said, I feel it's also important to clarify that much of this music is more of a personal soundtrack to our lives. We (my wife Alexandra and me) think of many great memories in a club, perhaps a slamming after hours party: Hearing music like this load a room with bass levels far beyond the safety zone, meanwhile everybody was having a wicked time. There's just something inherently tribal about this type of funky, deep electronic music. When I mean tribal, I mean something that strikes at the deep-rooted rhythm that permeates many of our lives. For thousands of years man (and woman) have gathered around fires and danced to the beats of drums. That's something we all share. Ethnicity, color, race or creed do not matter. That's a part of the reason rave culture exploded, and look at the impact electronic music has on pop culture today. It's undeniable. It breaks down barriers that we put up for ourselves.  

four tet pink

That rhythm: Minimal in compositional form, but soulful in its execution has been a force for many things for centuries. It's been a catalyst for escaping the every day trappings of life. Its even acted as the communication mechanism for appeasing the Gods. However, if we real things back to this century (you're welcome): A few years ago we would have called this style of electronic music tech house, but that may not mean anything to you. Music like this, specifically Four Tet's Pink, can rock a party, it's also a killer accompaniment on a drive. The peaks and valleys of the melodies can help get you through that work-out at the gym too. If you're just a fan of electronic music this album can take you on a pulsing sonic journey. I know a lot of this sounds like stoner-speak, but I'm trying to paint a reference point here for music that is so close to my heart. It's a challenge, but when I listen to this I feel like I'm back in the club. Or, better yet, I envision a grand house music party with live DJ's, the music's pounding and we're pumping our fists in the air, together, just working out the stress of our daily grinds. I can't say the same for commercial Euro-trance. Much of that music makes me want to vomit.

Four Tet's remix of Thom Yorke's "Atom's for Peace" (from his Eraser album) is one of the greatest remixes I have ever heard. It's flowing, drivy, and it stays true to the vibe of Yorke's original, but has a hypnotic effect on me. Just in case you think nobody above forty could love music like this: You should have seen Dan Meinwald's face (importer of Tim De Paravicini's excellent E.A.R equipment, as well as Marten Loudspeakers, Townshend, and a few others). Dan's been in the high end audio business for a number of years. When I played the remix at his home on his main system he asked who it was and got it right away! Pink has similar sonic characteristics to that remix. It's drummy and clicky, and while the arrangements may seem repetitive to many, there are nice, gradual builds and plateaus throughout the tracks that creates a story. I'm not speaking literally here. The sounds themselves insight emotions in the listener which conveys a story. Every person's story will be different. Music like this sounds like a canvas. As silly as that may sound to some, others who have been there when the sun is coming up and the music is kickin' understand. Sometimes there's just a kick drum, a snare, hi-hat, and a clap. Sometimes ambient music is filling the voids, but there's also a rhythmic value to the proper use of space in an arrangement. James Blake is very good with his use of wide open spaces in his compositions.  

Four Tet also has a terrific sense of timing and the value of space. His arrangements are not intricate often but he knows how to write a compelling piece of electronic music. Pink is a looking glass into Four Tet's underground sensibilities and proves this talented artist should get more remix work for bigger artists. This album, through deep-breathing kick drums, flowing synth lines, and a deep sense of funk, instills me with the need to move when I have my Audeze LCD3 headphones on a little loud, or when we're crankin' it on our main system. That may say it better than my silly attempts at waxing on what this sounds like. Four Tet is one of the global ambassadors for modern electronic music and I sincerely hope he climbs to whatever heights he aspires to. If any of this grabbed you, I urge you to check out Four Tet's Pink on MOG or Spotify, Pandora (I don't know if it's on there yet) or whatever streaming music services you use. Hell, just Google it! But check it out. Pink inspired me instantly. What could be bad about that?