If Four Tet's Rounds didn't make it onto every respectable music publication's 10-best list in 2003, it came damn close. The London-based producer is called Kieran Hebden when discussing Fridge, the U.K. outfit in which he played guitar, but when alluding to his gorgeous, textured, electronic solo stuff and his recent Madvillain remixes, he goes by the name of Four Tet. On Everything Ecstatic, Hebden pushes his chopped and riotous drum pieces entirely to the front lines; if the downtempo mildness of Rounds was his autumn-weather backdrop, Everything Ecstatic is a summertime springboard, complete with picnic party grooves and danceable breaks.
Drum sounds take center stage on Everything Ecstatic, Four Tet's fourth full-length. From the soulful handclap frenzy of opener "A Joy" to the chime-ridden jazz sensibility of the Madlib-esque "High Fives," deep, crisply resonant percussion is Hebden's first priority. Not unlike his contemporary and friend Dan "Caribou" Snaith (formerly Dan "Manitoba" Snaith), Hebden will sometimes begin a composition with the most comfortable of elements, in a somewhat structured and digestible manner. Before long, though, he has mangled the piece beyond recognition, so that entirely new ideas have taken gallant hold of what was once so firmly in place, leaving behind only remnants of stability.
Everything's most memorable moment is in Hebden's candid laptop-sponsored endeavor to manipulate his flowing, programmed consistency by interrupting the rhythm entirely and introducing new beats, new melodies and new sounds so that "Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions" is not one song, but rather a suite in itself. "Sleep ..." is nearly eight minutes, but it feels like a milestone in sound experimentation; in its unstable blasts and ever-changing beauty, it mirrors Everything Ecstatic as a whole, with striking competence and colorful unpredictability.