Four Tet-“New Energy”: ALBUM REVIEW

On the apply titled “New Energy,” esteemed prince of subdued UK dance Four Tet finds inspiration in his older material and later explorations.  The singles operate as such with pulsing, driving grooves and complementary melodies, yet the album blooms in a gradual manner, making the moments where the planets align truly pop.  It’s an album for fans true and casual, sure to suit the boiler room stage with a bit more dance-able material.

After an intro, “Two Thousand Seventeen” is the slow burn highlight of the work.  With the pillow of soupy base lines and the sparks of high vocals crafting the atmosphere, Tet’s huge bastion of a centerpiece looms.  Despite priding himself on his minimalist recording process, Tet manages to find a great deal of different textures throughout the album.  Here, the big melodic force evokes strings with its plucked timbres and oddly paced loops.

Foreboding melody marks the next string of tracks as melodies allude to oncoming action, before “Lush” and “Scientists” give it to you.  Light on its feet, “Lush” remains sensible, but it’s biting speed reaches for the rafters as a mixed bag of gentle melodies combine for a heavenly atmosphere.  “Scientists” is Four Tet’s songwriting at its finest.  The pillars of bass line bounce over the acoustic sounding high-hat.  Gradually more drums enter, before the track implodes with smoldering vocal combinations and a rogue trumpet solo.

“You Are Loved” is life affirming with its humanist, simmering synths, before “SW9 9SL” delivers the summary track.  With the mean straightforward beat setting in right away, this track doesn’t mess around.  Even the head room isn’t too lofty, focusing all energy on the rhythmic energy.  Momentum seems to completely shift around the midpoint as Tet builds a “bass drop” type of effect out in open space.  Melodies wander without a true rhythmic foundation, growing and boiling to a climax that immediately cuts back to the distilled groove that opened, except this time it’s adopted one of the signature warmly emotional bass melodies beneath it.  The overall spirit of the work is funneled into this track as the tried and true dance spills into ambience, then brings something back for the fans.

 

“Daughter” is another standout with a gorgeous combination of bright vocal loops and more warm synths, before “Planet” brings it home with a pummeling victory lap.  Perhaps some would classify the work as Four Tet doing Four Tet, however, his career path is evident in the music.  Even on tracks that burn with dance energy he seems to find a bit of “Morning/Evening’s” ambient meditation to underpin his ideas.  It’s a front to back experience that also features some of the guy’s best songwriting.  There’s not many on his level right now.

-Donovan Burtan

8/10

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s