Friday, June 09, 2006

[Music] FOUR TET gig, The Wall, June 8th, 2006

It was 9 pm last night when Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet,
sitting on an old sofa outside the discotheque. Without
his afro, you would just recognize him as another pale
sorry "literary youth" among others lazily sitting on
the couch and playing with their NB.

I bought his new CD, then asked for the autograph. Kieran
is still very much like the guy I saw him 2 years ago,
with big smile, big hands, and weird but dedicated bow,
which was probably learned from asians.

2 years ago, this Kieran guy came with a storm. He had
an autograph party in FNAC, a DJ show in THE WALL with
almost all of the famous electronic bands/DJs warming
up for him. It was a BIG party for Taiwanese altenative/electronic
music scene with lots of sparkles (of course, this meant
both positive and negative). Finally, he had a chill-out
party in another lounge club, playing and mixing all kinds
of funky wacky records for about 2 hours. Gladly, I didn't
miss any of the 3 events.

This time? I walked down to the basement in about 9 and it's
half empty. Eventually, guys gradually filled up the booth, although
I see more than half of them are there to show off,
chat with friends, or to get drunk and make themselves
looked bad.

The warm up band (VARO?) did not have the imagination nor
the virtuosity to manipulate between guitars and electronic
music, and Four Tet did not off to a promising start like
he did 2 years either. The mixing of "A Joy", 1st track
in his latest full album "Everything Ecstatic", is sold
but somewhat predictable.

This could one of the biggest dilemmas (if there is ever
one to him!) I thought Four Tet is having is his music-making
process right now: how to achieve the balance between his
"bedroom IDM" works (clean, crisp, cool, highly controlled),
and "improvised beats" (white-hot, free-flow, danceable,
high energy). "Everything Ecstatic", in my perspective,
is a work in the half-between. The oldies who have followed
his path and listened to both his albums and gigs will be
delighted for his new ideas and ongoing turnaround to improvise
Jazz/breakbeats/dance beat/underground hip hop/noise side;
however, for some critics and newbies, the change of Four
Tet has made him lost some of the previous cute, quiet, poetic,
selfloving "folktronica" style in him. Even I can tell some
of the struggles Kieran was having during the making of
"Everything Ecstatic", as most works were made under
implusiveness during his world tour, and lacked the
exquisite status he had in "Dialogue", "Pause"
and especially, "Rounds".

However, it seems like for Kieran, the ongoing change is
inevitable, even after he kind of acclaimed "the leader
of folktronica" status after the publication of "Rounds"
in 2003. I think, after the initial success he is having,
now Kieran is really tracing back to his music roots (Jazz &
Hip Hop)and expressing his true personality - wit, simple,
creative and fun-loving - through his somewhat wacky music,
manufactured by so-called high tech laptops(*) now.
Kieran's latest work, a project cooperated with drummer Steve Reid,
is an interesting (but sometimes messy, since it is recorded
during live and had no edits or overdubs) music journey
with 2 guys taking/giving with each other.

As the gig went on, the music gets much more interesting,
and the crowd were more involved. The basic intention for
Four Tet this time is about the same: Mixing and editing
different noises, beats and twists to existing tracks,
and make it sounds like a new one while make your feet
move automatically. But this time, Kieran is back with
more new ideas and quirky samples (like clock beats, cars
squeezing, etc.), utilized them both as background
noise effects or base beats to fulfiil the inner structure.
This time, there actually were less crazy "blow your TB-303
out!", top to the sky foghorn than last time, rather,
a more experienced and confident Kieran played the beats
impressively, transforming the music and atmosphere more
smoothly than last time, and there even had sections when
he was going at Jungle, Pop dance (robotic dance), or disco beats.
Not surprisingly, everytime when Kieran went to the old
tracks in "Pause" and "Rounds", the crowd responded ardently.

The encore tune is in quality also but not that surprising.

Overall, Kieran gave me a more satisfied music journey
under about the same concepts. I think he is one of few
in the electronic music scene right now that has "it":
Able to catch the inner vibe, express with poetic,
beautiful melody, and combine with numerous different
beats and tones, to form a organic and vigorous entity.
The future is limitless for him.

After the show is over, once again, he stayed on the couch
outside the discotheque for autograph and pictures. I gave
my compliments to him again, but also said that I was hoping
to hear the "Sleep Eat Food Have Vision" track in "Everything
Ecstatic". Kieran was still with his warm, polite demeanor,
gave me the weird but dedicated bow, and said: "Sorry."

Fantastic experience.

BTW, to someone who couldn't make it at last:
One of the bartenders in THE WALL is cute, really cute.
Cute like a sheep, actually.
Too bad you couldn't be here to witness it. (XD)

(*) "A nerdy technology magazine came to interview me and they
said, 'OK, let's photograph the studio now,'" says Hebden as he
sits down by his computer. "They were a bit disappointed when I
told them that this was it. I'm not interested in technology
itself - everything I use is completely out of date, as that
way, I feel completely in control of it - but I am interested
in making music that could not have been made at any time but now."

- Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, spoke in an interview
given to the Guardian, published on December 12, 2003.

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