Music

Four Tet: Pink

Four Tet moves forward by not really moving forward.


Four Tet

Pink

Label: Text
Release Date: 2012-08-20
Amazon
iTunes

There are moments on Four Tet’s new record, Pink, that immerse the listener in the hypnotic, alien textures that many of us have come to expect from Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet). But there are a good many others that cause the annoying, clichéd thought bubble “retro” to pop up in my mind, and as far as I am concerned, that is never a good thing. There is a huge difference between traditionalism or paying due respect to one’s honored forebears, and the ideas signified by the word “retro”. Retro implies a self-conscious mimicry of times gone by, a sort of costume party that feels inevitably empty and affected. There were more than a few moments during my first several perusals of Pink when I thought to myself, “Gosh, the Future Sound of London were pretty cool back in the early '90s. I haven’t listened to this stuff in years. Oh, wait, this isn’t the Future Sound of London; it’s the new Four Tet album, and it just came out”. Now I don’t blame Mr. Hebden for wanting to shake some asses, and I don’t expect him to keep remaking Pause or Rounds over and over again, but Pink more than occasionally sounds a little bit stale and nostalgic.

Pink is a dance music record, no doubt about it. This is not just electronic music; it is electronic dance music. Since 2010’s There is Love in You, it has been clear that Four Tet is trying to appeal to kids in the club who want to dance, not just nerdy IDM aficionados sitting at home smoking weed and stroking their beards. I understand and respect this desire, both from a financial and an artistic standpoint, but I think that Four Tet is capable of making dance music that is more forward-thinking and engaging than that offered on Pink.On its best dance-oriented moments, Pink sounds a bit like Around the House-era Herbert, which is a good thing. But too often Pink lacks the intricacy and subtlety that makes Around the House so appealing.

Things do occasionally take a turn towards the ambient, such as on the late album track "Peace for Earth", but even these moments tend to feel like a slightly juicier, squelcher version of Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume Two, and they do not help him against charges of retro-ism. Closing track "Pinnacles" is perhaps the best example, and it's maybe the most disappointing track on Pink. One can almost hear Hebden thinking to himself, “Alright! Now let’s get funky!” A fairly predictable house beat pulses alongside a groovy baseline that could have been culled from any out of a zillion by-the-numbers house cuts from the '90s with results that are mostly shrug-inducing.

There is nothing particularly bad or amateurish about Pink, but it doesn't stand up to the vivid, beautiful sonic worlds Hebden has been creating for more than a decade. Even the related material on There is Love in You (which shared Pink's fixation with funky house beats) feels a good deal more fleshed-out and dynamic than most of Pink's. I feel like I am being awfully hard on our old friend Mr. Hebden here, but I do so because I have experienced him at his best before and know what he is capable of. Unfortunately, Pink ends up feeling predictable, dated, and yes, kind of retro.

5

From genre-busting electronic music to new highs in the ever-evolving R&B scene, from hip-hop and Americana to rock and pop, 2017's music scenes bestowed an embarrassment of riches upon us.


60. White Hills - Stop Mute Defeat (Thrill Jockey)

White Hills epic '80s callback Stop Mute Defeat is a determined march against encroaching imperial darkness; their eyes boring into the shadows for danger but they're aware that blinding lights can kill and distort truth. From "Overlord's" dark stomp casting nets for totalitarian warnings to "Attack Mode", which roars in with the tribal certainty that we can survive the madness if we keep our wits, the record is a true and timely win for Dave W. and Ego Sensation. Martin Bisi and the poster band's mysterious but relevant cool make a great team and deliver one of their least psych yet most mind destroying records to date. Much like the first time you heard Joy Division or early Pigface, for example, you'll experience being startled at first before becoming addicted to the band's unique microcosm of dystopia that is simultaneously corrupting and seducing your ears. - Morgan Y. Evans

Keep reading... Show less
Film

Subverting the Romcom: Mercedes Grower on Creating 'Brakes'

Julian Barratt and Oliver Maltman (courtesy Bulldog Film Distribution)

Brakes plunges straight into the brutal and absurd endings of the relationships of nine couples before travelling back to discover the moments of those first sparks of love.

The improvised dark comedy Brakes (2017), a self-described "anti-romcom", is the debut feature of comedienne and writer, director and actress Mercedes Grower. Awarded production completion funding from the BFI Film Fund, Grower now finds herself looking to the future as she develops her second feature film, alongside working with Laura Michalchyshyn from Sundance TV and Wren Arthur from Olive productions on her sitcom, Sailor.

Keep reading... Show less

The year in song reflected the state of the world around us. Here are the 70 songs that spoke to us this year.

70. The Horrors - "Machine"

On their fifth album V, the Horrors expand on the bright, psychedelic territory they explored with Luminous, anchoring the ten new tracks with retro synths and guitar fuzz freakouts. "Machine" is the delicious outlier and the most vitriolic cut on the record, with Faris Badwan belting out accusations to the song's subject, who may even be us. The concept of alienation is nothing new, but here the Brits incorporate a beautiful metaphor of an insect trapped in amber as an illustration of the human caught within modernity. Whether our trappings are technological, psychological, or something else entirely makes the statement all the more chilling. - Tristan Kneschke

Keep reading... Show less

Under the lens of cultural and historical context, as well as understanding the reflective nature of popular culture, it's hard not to read this film as a cautionary tale about the limitations of isolationism.

I recently spoke to a class full of students about Plato's "Allegory of the Cave". Actually, I mentioned Plato's "Allegory of the Cave" by prefacing that I understood the likelihood that no one had read it. Fortunately, two students had, which brought mild temporary relief. In an effort to close the gap of understanding (perhaps more a canyon or uncanny valley) I made the popular quick comparison between Plato's often cited work and the Wachowski siblings' cinema spectacle, The Matrix. What I didn't anticipate in that moment was complete and utter dissociation observable in collective wide-eyed stares. Example by comparison lost. Not a single student in a class of undergraduates had partaken of The Matrix in all its Dystopic future shock and CGI kung fu technobabble philosophy. My muted response in that moment: Whoa!

Keep reading... Show less
Books

'The Art of Confession' Ties Together Threads of Performance

Allen Ginsberg and Robert Lowell at St. Mark's Church in New York City, 23 February 1977

Scholar Christopher Grobe crafts a series of individually satisfying case studies, then shows the strong threads between confessional poetry, performance art, and reality television, with stops along the way.

Tracing a thread from Robert Lowell to reality TV seems like an ominous task, and it is one that Christopher Grobe tackles by laying out several intertwining threads. The history of an idea, like confession, is only linear when we want to create a sensible structure, the "one damn thing after the next" that is the standing critique of creating historical accounts. The organization Grobe employs helps sensemaking.

Keep reading... Show less
9
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image