Matthew Derwin reviews Four Tet’s latest album “New Energy.”
Four Tet, the brainchild of London musician Kieran Hebden, returns with New Energy after the release of Morning/Evening in 2015. His new effort is a wide-ranging, smooth electronic experience, seamlessly flowing from stripped-back drum beats and twitchy Oriental riffs to urgent, energetic dance tracks, and weighty bass-lines.
The standout songs of the album are ‘Two Thousand and Seventeen’ and ‘SW9 9SL.’ ‘Two Thousand and Seventeen’ has a calming quality, with dreamy synths and the skilful incorporation of a dulcimer. ‘SW9 9SL’ is a rhythmic dance piece, where Four Tet crafts an intricate soundscape through the gradual addition of more varied instruments, the only constant being the thumping bass. ‘Planet,’ which was released as a single in August, deserves an honourable mention, mixing elements from the tracks above with looped, ethereal vocals to create an otherworldly sound. This can also be observed on the much gentler piece, ‘Daughter.’
It’s often frustrating when albums include provoking but brief interludes when you would love to see them fleshed out into full tracks, but some, particularly ’10 Midi,’ do break up the album nicely. They provide a foil to the self-contained worlds that Four Tet creates in each piece. New Energy only really falters with the slightly flat production on ‘You Are Loved.’ However, this is almost negligible and aside from this, the album maintains a consistent standard of quality throughout.
In a nutshell: New Energy is a strong album for electronic fans, snugly fitting into Four Tet’s discography.