Although electronic music varies massively from genre to genre, there are a handful of producers who have the power and talent to unify all strands of the spectrum. Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) undoubtedly falls under this category. Over the past four years, Hebden has been producing under his Percussions moniker, although nothing officially surfaced until mid-2014 with two 12” releases via Text Records. These were made up of ‘Blatant Water Cannon’, ‘Ascii Bot’, ‘KHLHI’ and ‘Sext’, and all tracks now feature on the new album. These four established the ‘Percussions’ style, a beat-driven sound always compatible with the dancefloor which soundtracked many of our summers (notably ‘KHLHI’ and ‘Ascii Bot’). We no longer have to play these on repeat to get our Percussions fix, as an eleven-track LP is now available for all, made up of the tracks made by Hebden under the Percussions umbrella between 2011 and 2014. This being said, on close listening, the likeness to Four Tet’s pre-existing tracks is still as clear as crystal.
Hebden’s music can be distinguished by certain elements. Firstly, his use of rare, distinctive samples and his technique of looping them. What makes this music so ingenious is that it does not dwell on a single motif. Developments are gradual and simple, but they are happening all the time, quickly but at a steady pace. In this way, Hebden’s music can be likened to minimalism. His minimalist treatment of samples is best illustrated by the wooden flute trill of ‘November 2011’, or the synthesised Reich-esque broken chord heard throughout ‘Ascii Bot’. Musical interest also focuses on, and is generated from the percussive elements of sound. From the acid-inspired bleeps in ‘Rabbit Songs’ to the more apt sample of birdsong in ‘Bird Songs’, emphasis on a driving beat in the tracks (perhaps explaining the name ‘Percussions’?) ensures that no momentum is lost.
Opening and closing the album are ‘February 2014’ and ‘January 2014’. Both tracks could easily be bonus tracks perched at the end of Four Tet’s 2010 album ‘There is Love in You’, especially when compared to the likes of ‘Love Cry’ and ‘Plastic People’. This being said, the more recent Hebden productions burst with originality. Take final track ‘January 2014’ for example. Despite its dancefloor-ready sound, two types of hi-hat have been blended into one another. A typical uhn-tss-uhn-tss beat is present in the treble, while an uptempo hi-hat loop characteristic of Swing and Jazz music is audible in the mix, again, possibly playing on the role of ‘Percussions’ in the music of his new project. With ‘2011 Until 2014’, Hebden reminds everyone of his ability to create freshness in dance music by combining intelligence with simplicity.
‘2011 Until 2014’ is out now on Bandcamp. Buy it here.