Four Tet / Boom Bip Sonar, Vancouver BC - June 3, 2003

The recorded output of England's Kieran Hebden (aka Four Tet) and America's Bryan Hollon (aka Boom Bip) has always seemed a bit too polite. Yet the pair's recent Vancouver appearance was one of the best shows I've seen all year, as the bedroom boffins unveiled their aggressive alter egos. Bip, whose latest release, Seed To Sun, is nestled in a nether space between the worlds of head-nodding hip-hop and down-tempo electronica. Perched behind his trusty laptop, he teased out some narcotic melodies over a series of chest-rattling bass patterns, at times holding a tiny mixer against his stomach and twiddling its knobs like a geeky Eddie Van Halen. A shy-looking Hebden then up to his own set of laptops and mixers, and proceeded to stun onlookers with a noise-ridden reinterpretation of songs from Rounds. At times, his set devolved into a glutinous stew of atonality and screeching effects, only to be resurrected by the deft placement of a stable rhythm track. As close to a psychedelic laptop performance as I've ever witnessed, Four Tet's Vancouver gig couched Rounds in an entirely new context, reinvigorating my interest in an album I thought I'd exhausted.