Four Tet Rounds

Given that Kieran Hebden’s other project, post-rock band Fridge, was a success during his time in high school, it’s somewhat amazing to think that at only the age of 25 he’s already released his third gorgeous Four Tet record. It seems that Hebden’s creativity and ability to make stunning music isn’t going to end and Rounds could very well be his best. Producing again from his bedroom, using only his computer to carefully place and manipulate his beats and samples, Hebden has nailed his ability to make a very non-electronic sounding album. Sure, there’s the manic scatterbrain beats of "Spirit Fingers” that no live musician would ever be able to pull off in real time, but then we get the epic "Unspoken” thrown at our direction. Clocking in at over nine minutes, this track is so organic in its nature that it’s hard to believe that software could make strings, piano and snare drums sound so rich and life-like. Rounds tends to keep things on the chill side when it comes to tempo and overall feel, and this is where Hebden seems to make goose bumps appear most easily. He lays down funky breaks with guitar loops and hand claps on "As Serious As Your Life,” which is also his most electronic sounding adventure, but Rounds succeeds most in its elegance when he strips his compositions down to the bare essentials like the Asian strings that ring softly within "And They All Look Broken Hearted.” There are so many gorgeous moments on this offering that its hard to comprehend whether or not Four Tet has reached his peak or not. If this sound matures anymore we may have a severe aural meltdown on our hands. (Domino)