Four Tet Everything Ecstatic

Four Tet Everything Ecstatic
In Kieran Hebden’s world, happiness is a good beat. Where 2003’s pastoral Rounds did little to refute the much-hated "folktronica” tag pinned to the Brit producer/composer’s slight shoulders, Hebden, aka Four Tet, seems to have found new joy in creating rhythms so complex that they make a convincing argument for rendering the basic drum kit extinct. While pals like Caribou have pushed their laptop compositions towards a more indie rock template, Hebden continues to stretch the boundaries of what electronic music is supposed to sound like. Everything Ecstatic opens with a tumble of percussion and grinding bass that sets the tone for what’s to follow, but lead track "A Joy” also features the intriguing little idiosyncrasies listeners have come to expect from Hebden — he weaves in a glistening melody about halfway through the song, and then in the final 30 seconds, obliterates all that went before with an unexpected burst of white noise. Free jazz meets hip-hop for a trip into outer space on "Sun Drums and Soil,” while squelch-y seven-minute-plus epic "Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions” stacks up the beats and blips into a tidy pile before blowing the entire thing to smithereens. It’s the aptly-named "Smile Around the Face,” however, that encapsulates the record’s Technicolor exuberance with its sped-up chipmunk vocals set to silvery bells and a relentlessly infectious beat. Where so much of electronic music of late sounds like it was made by — and not just on — a machine, Hebden’s sound retains a markedly human touch. It’s music for the head that doesn’t forget about the heart. (Domino)