Various – ‘Fabriclive 59: Four Tet’ (Fabric Records)

Boffin – the big haired founder of Fridge – an electronic mathematician who likes to move – future garage DJ – new jazz co-conspirator. Kieran Hebden aka Four Tet is a musical innovator with enough different hats to put Ascot to shame, a man who when cut probably bleeds pure sound. His skills are seemingly ever burgeoning, his tastes ever broadening. As far as current deep sea divers in dance floor business go, there arguably aren’t many others so willing to go deep into unchartered waters.

Initially pigeon-holed as a post-rock jazzy dabbler, then tarnished with the ‘folktronica’ brush, this Fabric mix is indicative of just how far Hebden has travelled. Back when the likes of Jamie XX and Joy Orbison were naught but glints in their parents’ eyes, he was tinkering with beats and bleeps, brewing up his rhythmical alchemy. Now he’s been embraced by this new breed of bass lovers and held up as a totem for those in thrall to the shapes shaking between all things future and garage.

The mix, unsurprisingly, shows wide ambition. To provide the enterprise with more levity than just another free Internet mix or pod cast, Fabric and Hebden have attempted to commit the beating heart of the club to audio. Plus he cut his own, uncleaned acetates of original beats to throw into the pot. So the 27 tunes, which make up the 59th episode in the Live series, are welded together by recordings taken from inside the guts of the club itself. It’s a neat and clever idea but adds up to a slightly disjointed listening experience. The space and rumble of the corridors makes sense on paper as the listener supposedly wanders from room to room. But fail to take into account the wandering hands, pure sweat and volume of the rooms or myriad passages. It’s all just a bit too polite.

Concepts aside, the tunes on display are, as one would have guessed, diverse in terms of range and style, if never allowed to strike out too wildly on their own. Only Genius’ Waiting and Four Tet’s own productions make your heart beat lurch. Elsewhere he tastefully blends a warm blooded collection of past and future 2 -step, 4×4 and dubstep slices from the likes of Burial, Floating Points and Ricardo Villalobos. It’s a diverting enough trip but devotees of his work will be wettest for the two original pieces he includes. Pyramids is arguably the most dance floor friendly piece of straight up house he’s yet to commit to – a vocal chopped, screwed and looped reverberates above a pounding beat while Locked is a classic piece of Four Tet melancholia which pulls a curtain down over the mix – a spiralling melodic snippets leads to a fade out.

So Four Tet’s Fabric selections adds up to a journey which is definitely well worth taking. But he’s still not the rude boy his adoption by the new crowd suggests. If Four Tet was on cruising duties, I’d imagine him to be the man in the front seat of the blacked out Nova taking the Tom Tom apart to decipher how it works. But as with all his releases, it’s a way of pulling back the top of his head and seeing what sort of magic lies behind those eyes. Currently, and no matter how tastefully, it’s dancing…

Jim Ottewill

Fabriclive 59 is out now on Fabric Records