Live: Four Tet, Gluing The Vase Back Together And Smashing It Again At Le Poisson Rouge


Try this one, it’s called “Slow Jam,” for very good reason.

Four Tet
Le Poisson Rouge
Wednesday, February 18

People used to call Kieran Hebden’s preferred style “folktronica,” and for that he deserves a sincere, groveling apology. Everyone does. It made slightly more sense back in 2003, when Rounds, his third release as Four Tet, revealed itself as a world-class driving-across-a-famous-bridge-and-enjoying-the-view record, delicately mingling the robotic and the pastoral, digital sunrises and digital sunsets. Hard, insistent electronic beats mingled with chopped-up pieces of what sounded suspiciously like acoustic guitars, music boxes, harps, mandolins. “As Serious as Your Life” paired a lithe funk bassline with… an autoharp? Could it be? And why not? He plays it tonight at LPR, roundabouts 1:15 a.m. or so, and the sold-out crowd goes (demurely) nuts.

Perched cheerfully behind a table of blinking, bleeping toys (at one point he taps out a wonky melody on what could very well have been a plain ol’ iPhone), Hebden alternates between a light touch and a heavy one, faring best when the two intermingle. We begin with “Angel Echoes,” the extremely well-named leadoff to his new, widely praised There Is Love in You (our chat with him about it/information overload/Tori Amos is here), a cooing female voice offset by one-note piano/water-glass droplets, as though he is patiently gluing together a smashed vase back together, until titanic drum rolls and cymbal crashes intrude to remind you how the vase got broken in the first place.

Roughly an hour later, we peak with “Love Cry,” which blurs the lines between those extremes, a single cooing voice repeating the title ad infinatum over a vicious drumbeat, half-man, half-machine. The crowd, primarily living in their own heads throughout, gets just slightly more extroverted. There are raucous calls for an encore until Hebden comes back out and plays the mandolin-ish one.

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