Four Tet's "feel good music".

Four Tet's “feel good music”.

February 2023: Madison Square Garden is sold out in a few moments for the DJ set by Skrillex, Fred Again.. and Four Tet. A few weeks later the trio was called to headline Coachella to replace Frank Ocean, whose concert on the first weekend was a disaster. The trio's show is a triumph, however. There is a scene that sticks in my mind from that event: the video of Four Tet approaching the stage and saying “can you believe it?”. Short trousers, t-shirt and a tote bag on his shoulder: it seems there by chance, not one of the most influential names in electronics of the last 20 years.

Of the three he was simultaneously the mentor – the one with the longest career – and the alien – the one who had remained as far away from the mainstream as possible, even with radical choices. The doubt that arose for those who had followed his path – that of electronic guru between ambient, post-rock and dance – was whether he would change his musical proposal, getting closer to the ambitions of Skrillex and Fred Again… Instead, shortly after he released “Three drums”, a song based on a sampling of three drums (but is it okay?) and with an elegiac melody based on synths and voices: as far away as possible from the DJ set at Coachella, where he mixed the Nirvana with dubstep with remixed versions of pop songs (Taylor Swift, Carly Rae Jepsen, Blink-182, Miley Cyrus).

A year later, “Three drums” is the final track of “Three”, the twelfth album released as Four Tet, which is just one of Kieran Hebden's many musical identities, the most consolidated and recognizable. It arrives exactly 4 years after “Sixteen oceans”: in between “Parallel” was released, a collection of material originally published under an unpronounceable pseudonym made of hieroglyphics, and a large quantity of singles, remixes and collaborations were released.

But don't talk about an artist who embraces the death of the album to publish only songs and tracks, as often happens in electronic music. Because this work is the exact opposite: Four Tet releases albums with obsessive care, giving them great value. So much so that in an era of long records and short songs for platforms, “Three” lasts exactly 45 minutes to fit on a single vinyl and has 6-8 minute songs. It is a long suite that summarizes the various souls of his production: the rhythms sampled from hip hop, the organic and ambient sounds (several songs were composed on a peculiar synth, Soma Terra, given to him by his friends Caribou and Floating Points), even the guitars on “Skater” reminiscent of those he used in Fridge, his 90s post-rock band.

“Bloom31” even recalls the dark rhythms of the numerous collaborations with Burial.

In the end Four Tet just sounds like Four Tet: few other artists have such an elusive identity (he never gives interviews, he does everything alone) and yet so musically defined. As soon as you hear the naive melody of “Daydream repeat” laid on a beat you can't help but think of him, if you know a little about his music. It's music to dance to, for his DJ sets – but also music for multimedia shows and to listen to with a good pair of headphones. It is “Feel good music”, simultaneously simple and immediate but hyper-layered in the choice and construction of sounds: with every listen there is a new detail to discover.

In short, Four Tet remains one of the most peculiar names not only in electronics but in contemporary music. He will come to Italy for two performances at the Future Festival in Turin: a back to back with Floating Points and a solo performance: they will already be among the most anticipated of a very rich programme.