FabricLive 59: Four Tet

Four Tet (a.k.a Kieran Hebden) adds something special to the Fabric Live series with the 59th compilation out this Monday, September 19th. The mix has a distinct narrative to it and unearths music that hasn’t previously had a great deal of exposure, as forgotten gems reside next to current tracks that are dear to Hebden alongside a number of his own tracks made specially for the compilation – something Four Tet has been doing for his DJ sets and Live shows for many years.

This project for Hebden has become more than just the mix itself; it’s been an adventure into the past as he sought out classics alongside rarer tracks he may have missed at the time when immersed in the original 90’s 2-step garage scene. Hebden also considered the idea of exploring the club’s environment itself. His friend and audio engineer, Sasha Lewis visited Fabric to take field recordings, which feature as an intro, outro and pausing highlight, breaking the mix into different parts as if the listener is moving within the club’s space to experience different rooms.

The first half of the CD pays homage to the early 90’s garage scene but as the ‘evening’ progresses, the listener is transported to other rooms as the latter half of the album develops a different kind of groove where funky house and techno become the dominating genres.

Tracks range from experimental electronics such as Michel Redolfi’s ‘Immersion Partielle’ to much-loved garage classics like ‘First Born’ by Crazy Bald Heads and the deep, tribal bass-line of Persian’s rare white label, ‘Feel Da Vibe’. Also featuring later in the compilation is the angelic Four Tet remix of ‘First Born’ – a remix that Hebden produced for a possible single as Crazy Bald Heads were on the way to being signed but the deal fell through and the record was never released.

As the mix progresses, the listener moves through the realms of UK funky experiencing the percussive, minimal beats housed in ‘Webers’ by Dan Snaith of Caribou fame (originally released under his Manitoba guise) and moves smoothly into the aptly named ‘Waiting’ by Genius – a playful UK funky come dub hybrid of sorts that, I will add, has had me bobbing around at my desk exuberantly with headphones on to drown out the sounds of RnB Friday in the office.

Next up, STL’s ‘Dark Energy’ presents a steady build-up featuring a percussive beat and warped bass-line that gradually become louder as the track gains momentum. The pitch continues to fluctuate until merging into the disconcerting ‘Angie’s Fucked’ by C++ where uneasy electronic sounds begin to take the listener to the next musical theme.

Burial’s dark and tribal ‘Street Halo’ takes the mix forward again, as if now in the earlier hours of the morning at Fabric, meeting the animated groove of KMA’s ‘Cape Fear’ head on to give the crowd a fresh burst of energy.

Closing with Four Tet’s ‘Pyramid’ and ‘Locked’, which was written especially for the compilation (and now released as a 12″) makes for a great finale as the compilation shows no signs of dying out toward the end as sometimes is the case with such things. Instead, ‘Pyramid’ offers up a massive dose of invigorated house with a rhythm designed to make the dance floor move! The breakdown delivers a tranquil harmony whilst maintaining the pace for those that don’t want to stop before dropping that revitalising beat back in.

‘Locked’ is typical of Hebden’s deep, melodic sound – the perfect way to send the crowd out into the bright morning light of EC1.

The compilation is constructed on computer, more in the way you would create a film score than a DJ mix. Yet every track is vinyl, with Hebden cutting acetates of all his own music to ensure a consistent vibe and quality of sound. It has also been mastered with no cleaning or levelling to retain the hiss, pop and crackle of the wax. It’s these slightly obsessive details that make the 59th Fabric Live mix stand out from the series in its own unique way.

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