Electronica is a cutting edge genre, constantly reinventing itself. In that sense, it has a habit of outdoing itself, stretching itself thin in an effort to sound like the music of 20 years from now.
Four Tet, though shoulder deep in a workspace of cords, dials and laptops, comes off sounding nuanced and natural. Samples from wind chimes to garage percussion to digital clicks and clacks fill every track to the brim. So layered are his trance-inducing electronic renderings that it would take a large sheet of graph paper just to track his songs.
Last night, Kieren Hebden's one man show stuck to the task diligently. Barely stopping for water, he ran through elongated versions of songs from his three albums. To the crowd's delight, Hebden seemed in extra fit Euro form, using wavy repetition, disco drumming and slowly developed crescendos. I entered expecting head nodding and found myself cutting a rug.
From behind his cluttered table, Hebden looked sinister, his sprawling anime hair made all the bigger from shadows cast by flash bulbs. His eyes paced nervously from computer screen to computer screen, popping up occasionally to check the crowd's pulse, something he eventually controlled completely.
Among his many gadgets was a sampler controller of some kind that looked like a video game. Glowing dots lined the screen and batted back and forth as he adjusted the pace and incorporation of his creations. He was playing musical Pong, consumed by his creation and the effects it was having on his obedient fans.
The atmosphere Hebden creates is one-of-a-kind. With the flow (eventually, at least) of an RJD2 and the absurd range of an Animal Collective, Four Tet carries quite the threat. Seeing him live made me realize just how observant he is while performing, taking into account his crowds' every mood shift or inclination. And with enough raw ingredients and mixing prowess to work with, he leaves little feeling, mood or request untouched.
Photos by Mark Stock