Kieran Hebden's latest release as Four Tet, the moniker he has recorded under since disbanding the late-'90s post-rock group Fridge, is a double-disc collection of remixes. While a remix album may seem superfluous in the catalogs of many artists as young as Hebden, Remixes
in all actuality serves as a stellar introduction to one of the brightest young talents in electronic music today and is an essential and timely addition to the Four Tet collection.
Remixes compiles two different approaches to Four Tet's music. Disc one is a concise selection of the best remixes Hebden's hands have touched, while disc two collects every remix of Four Tet's own work done by other artists.
Many jazz fans may not be familiar with the work of Four Tetbut they damn well should be. Hebden is a student of music, versed in a variety of sounds and styles from acoustic folk to jazz, ambient dub and the avant-garde compositions of Steve Reich (who recently began working with Four Tet on a series of collaborations).
And if you think about it, the remix really is a sort of postmodern form of composition, not unlike jazz and other composed mediums. Rather than manipulating sounds in one's head and transcribing those ideas to paper, the composer here digitally deconstructs and then reconstructs actual, tangible prerecorded sounds to produce something wholly new and original.
The art of the remix isn't easyto make a track your own, to keep the integrity of the original work and add one's own artistry takes a deft knowledge of sound construction and an almost instinctual musicality. Hebden is perhaps the most apt remix artist around, and this shows throughout.
Remixing (disc one) begins with a surrealist, nightmarish reworking of Lars Horntveth's "Tics. Radiohead's "Skttrbrain follows with glitchy layers of percussion and Thom Yorke's signature falsetto. Two tracks from Madvillian, the collaborative effort of Stones Throw soldier Madlib and multi-personalitied emcee MF Doom, receive the Four Tet treatment. "Money Folder is highlighted by video game-tech keyboard samples, while "Great Day brings Hebden's signature acoustic guitar to the mix, layered over loose, jazzy drumming.
The post-punk buzz band Bloc Party sees their wonderful "So Here We Are dissected in minimalist fashion, and Australian chanteuse Sia gets the funk treatment on an Issac Hayes-influenced rendition of her "Breathe Me what a voice! And in a most outstanding effort, Four Tet tackles folk songstress Beth Orton's "Carmella, creating a twelve-minute overture that truly showcases Hebden's talents.
Remixed (disc two) is highlighted by an appearance by the late J Dilla, who beautifully reworks "As Serious as Your Life. Sa Ra offers a beach blanket version of "Sun Drums and Soil, and underrated emcee Percee P shows up on "A Joy (a track which actually appears in four different forms here). Manitoba and Boom Bip, two artists in the same vein as Four Tet and equally as deserving of recognition by jazz fans, also lend their talents to Remixed.