Four Tet Takes New York
In the ever-shifting landscape of electronic music, Kieran Hebden, better known as Four Tet, has been a constant force, regularly ranking among both the most innovative producers and interesting live performers in the category. One need look no further than two recent collaborators – ethereal dubstep master Burial and Radiohead front man Thom Yorke – to grasp Four Tet’s attunement to the pulse of progressive, expressive electronic music. His previous high profile pairing with legendary jazz drummer Steve Reid hints at his versatility beyond standard electronic fare.
In the past year or so since Four Tet took up residency in New York City, the area has been treated to an abundance of performances at venues ranging from Gowanus groves to Williamsburg warehouses. The early part of 2012 has already seen two sold out gigs, the first a DJ set at the roving Brooklyn dance party Mister Saturday Night and the second a live set at Le Poisson Rouge.
Setting the Scene
The DJ set came at the tail end of a frigid night in an otherwise lukewarm winter, amid light flurries. Early arrivers were treated to free Tecate as the funky sounds of party promoters and DJs Justin Carter and Eamon Harkin filled the dance floor at the curiously named cozy private loft 12-Turn-13.
Night bled into late night and Four Tet took to the decks. Carter and Harkin capably brought the energy level to a head, but Mr. Hebden took things to another level. An unimposing figure with wiry hair and perpetual bags under his eyes, Four Tet simply has an encyclopedic knowledge of dance music from funk to jazz to future bass, and knows seemingly exactly the track to send the crowd into a euphoric frenzy. Tracks as varied as Herbie Hancock’s jazz funk classic “Chameleon” segued seemlessly into contemporary forward electronic music from the likes of Daphni (aka Caribou mastermind Dan Snaith), Lone and FaltyDL.
Well into the evening, Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” mingled with Prince’s “Kiss.” Very few DJs have the genre-spanning acumen of Four Tet, and even fewer execute so skillfully on the dance floor. As Four Tet finished his set, the crowd gradually filtered out into the brisk predawn, but Mister Saturday Night went on well into early Sunday morning. You know you’ve raged a party properly when you’re the last ones on the dance floor and the DJs stop playing as you walk out the door.
The next Four Tet experience took place at the venerable Village club Le Poisson Rouge. This was a live set featuring all original Hebden productions. Opener Mike Slott spun an opening set of Hebdenesque jazz-infused bass heavy hip hop beats to get the crowd warmed up. Four Tet’s short, sweet set kicked off with several unreleased pieces and soon segued into epic skittery introspective club bangers like “Love Cry,” “Pyramid” and “Locked.” Unfortunately, at 2am we were forced to spring forward, losing an hour of dance time. Quality over quantity. It’s always nice to leave wanting more, but even nicer to leave fully satiated. Luckily, it seems it won’t be much of a wait for the next helping.
Four Tet will be playing quite a few international festivals this summer, but you can catch him back in NYC this month dropping the low end at Francois K’s long-running Deep Space party at Cielo, home to arguably the best sound system in New York. And if that’s not incentive enough, admission and vodka cocktails are FREE before 11pm with this flyer.
Here’s a few sets and mixes to hold you over
Last year’s set at Mister Sunday (the daytime analog to Mister Saturday Night):
His first live set at LPR from 2010:
To give you an idea of his skill in any genre, here is a jazzy mix from back in 2003:
And last, but not least, my favorite Four Tet track, the magnum opus “Love Cry”: