It is hard to see what Kieran Hebden, also known as electronic artist Four Tet, is trying to achieve with his tenth album. He seems to have jumped into the current trend of using the sounds of spacey female voices, mangled samples and slow bass heavy beats, echoing the likes of Chvrches and Purity Ring. Once an original and innovative artist, it is disappointing that this album is devoid of anything really compelling and new. Beautiful Rewind has a few moments of Four Tet’s former creativity, but this is overshadowed by the frustrating anti-climax of the majority of the eleven tracks.
At first we are confronted with ‘Gong’ a messy, undefined low key introduction seeming short of ideas. Track two, hip-hopish ‘Parrellel Jalebi’ would have been a much better choice for an opener, its chords and rhythm are much more defined and the song has a real sense of style and sound to it. After ‘Parrellel Jalebi’, it is continually frustrating how many tracks are a slow build up to nothing with no real climax or points of focus. The few exceptions to this format are ‘Buchla’ and ‘Unicorn’. ‘Unicorn’s’ African-inspired percussive sounds (a very Romare-esque touch) and rhythms allow for a much calmer listening experience than many of the other more repetitive tracks on the album. It provides a healthy dose of cheerful marimba and bell-like synthesizer effects that add to the tribal feel and provides an escape from the electronic monotony of Kool FM and other dance-based tracks on the album. Ending with ‘Your Body Feels’ it seems the album has finally found its feet. ‘Your Body Feels’ leads up to a climax when the kick drum finally fits into the pumped percussion. It is by far the most satisfying and accomplished track on the album.
Compared to the mellow, hip-hop-influenced electronica of records like Pause or Rounds it seems Beautiful Rewind lacks ambition, each track seeming to be an experiment that never quite reaches its full potential. Even though Hebden employs stronger links to dance music than in his former works it still felt very empty and soulless, with little chance of inspiring a listener to physically or emotionally move.By Georgia Marshall