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Beautiful Rewind

In typically unflashy fashion, the announcement of Kieran Hebden’s latest album on his Text label was done via a simple blog post on his website. The only information on offer was format and timescale – “no pre-order, no YouTube trailers, no iTunes stream, no Spotify, no Amazon deal, no charts, no bit coin deal, no last minute rick rubin.” Despite the lack of a high budget marketing campaign, the album organically acquired a buzz.

The 11-track Beautiful Rewind is for the most part heavy and industrial, teeming with nods to the UK pirate radio scene, with one track named after the 90s jungle station ‘Kool FM’. Expect raw and gritty samples taped from old recordings, MC shouts and radio static weaved with amen breaks and synthy basslines.

Samples with purposefully mismatched fidelity create alluringly unsettling soundscapes on a number of tracks, from opener ‘Gong’ and ‘Our Navigation’ to the thuddy, techno oriented ‘Buchla’ and ‘Aerial’, which blend together nicely with their shared themes of acid and bleepy electro.

There is some respite from the grubby industrial vibe on ‘Parallel Jalebi’, much more gentle on the ears with its dreamy synths and garage style vocal samples. The beautifully complex analogue synth work and ambient electronica on tracks ‘Ba Teaches Yoga’ and ‘Unicorn’ balance the whole sound of the album out.

Beautiful Rewind is definitely not for everyone. It’s not what you’d call accessible, perhaps even a touch ‘art house’. It hasn’t got the hooks and melodies of his previous releases but it is an intricately crafted homage to UK dance music and deserves to be appreciated on high quality hardware, not in the background at your mate’s house party.

Making more music than ever at the moment, Four Tet has also produced the new album by Syrian artist Omar Souleyman. Fans should look out for Wenu Wenu, released on Ribbon Music this month.

by Now Then Manchester