London's Kieran Hebden, operating as Four Tet, seems to be chasing the vanishing afternoon sun during the soul-happy beats of Everything Ecstatic, his new collection of wordless, uptempo electronica on Domino Records. On his fourth record, Hebden still explores a love for jazz, techno and psych, but his travels find him steeped in drum country, where percussion takes the front seat of his day-glo VW bus. Though he still adheres to the successful formula for the laptop liftoffs that garnered his indie stardom, his aims differed this time from those of the sleeper gems on 2003's Rounds.
"I made this record a lot faster than Rounds, and with a bit of a more focused intent," he says of Everything. "With Rounds I had this idea of making a record, where making a record just became something that intertwined with my day-to-day life. It was something I would do here and there, in the same way I would eat or brush my teeth or something. Whereas with Everything Ecstatic, it was like sitting down with a very concentrated period of work, where it was quite clear how to make this thing. That was the main difference."
Hebden's focus on drum sounds is also an act of rebellion, as he was pigeonholed in lazy-journalist circles two years ago as a "folktronica" artist because of Rounds' introspective downtempo. To inform Everything's chaotic moments, he spent a lot of headphone time with techno artists like Carl Craig and Derrick May, while also making listening room for Curtis Mayfield and old soul.
"I wanted to make the record quick," he says, "and try to retain that sort of energy. I had this idea of making a record that sounded very lively, and I felt that if I spent ages on it, it would start to sound kind of labored and the ideas would become too … well, I guess the rough edges would have been taken away, and it might all be a bit more 'considered.' I wanted it to come out while it was still be in that kind of 'manic' state."
Hebden's excited, and Everything's "manic," dizzying sounds translate also to his tour anticipation.
"It's nice," he says of his forthcoming U.S. trip. "I'm doing a big tour around the whole country. It's definitely quite an amazing life experience to properly travel around the whole of the States in one go like that. It's just an enormous country, with so much going on in it. But to get to see it that way, is … I remember the first time I did a tour around the States and thought to myself, 'Well, it's just something that everybody should try and do at least once in their life' driving around America, that's a phenomenal experience in itself, and I'm rather looking forward to the shows as well. I'm getting a good response to my record in America, and I think I've got a bit of a really good feeling about this tour. I think we're gonna have good times."
with Cyne, Koushik
9 pm, Thursday, Sept 15