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Review: “Three”

The new project from producer Four Tet experiments with different types of electronic atmospheres.
Image by Ava Weinreis
The twelfth album from Kieran Hebden features tight production and groovy drums.

Electronic musician Four Tet released a new album “Three” on Friday, which sticks to Four Tet’s style of ambient synths over rhythmic drums. 

Four Tet is the solo project of English producer Kieran Hebden, who has been making music under the name since 1995. Recently, Hebden has frequently collaborated with the likes of Skrillex and Fred Again, along with playing a set at Coachella with them last year. 

“Four Tet’s newest album offers a soft, floaty, dreamy experience that can be hypnotizing at times until interrupted by moments of organic drums, guitar and modern house music,” said University of Minnesota student Kai Loiseaux-Purcell.

The album begins with the song “Loved,” which was the first song released off the album. It is a simple song that begins with a funk drum beat, followed by lush synths.

The next track, “Gliding Through Everything,” is a jumble of jittery bells that get so drenched in reverb, all we are left with is the harmony of all the notes combined. Halfway through, it switches to long sustained orchestral chords and a clean electric guitar strumming over it. 

The album then moves on to “Storm Crystals,” which sounds exactly like the title suggests. A plucky lead with downtempo drums is complimented by an airy pad in the background with arpeggiated bells occasionally appearing in the mix. 

While the synth sounds in this song offer some unique ideas, the track itself is a somewhat forgettable cut on the album.

“Daydream Repeat” is a more traditional dance cut, with U.K. house drums under a low distorted synth that slowly gets replaced by a melodic lead reminiscent of the solo works of Jamie XX. 

“Skater” is a standout track from the album with influences leaning toward 1980s post-punk. A guitar with a heavy chorus effect is played in a laid-back style. The song ends in a choir-like arrangement of scattered voices.

Switching to a sound akin to 1990s rave and trance music, “31 Bloom” features stuttering beeps and low rhythmic synths over shuffling drums. It is one of the catchier tracks on the album. 

The song “So Blue” starts with stabbing synths that seem to stumble over themselves, a spacey vocal sample occasionally popping in. Eventually, leisurely drums come in to keep the beat and glue the whole piece together. At times it feels meandering but comes back into itself here and there.

The album ends with “Three Drums,” with a drum sample that is reminiscent of early DJ Shadow due to the ride cymbal substantially standing out in the mix. A dense synth pad plays a harmonic melody that slowly distorts into a wall of noise that sounds almost like a shoegaze guitar tone. 

The final few minutes of the album return to a mix of an ambient synth under a looping vocal sample, as if we were listening to the inner groove of a vinyl record repeating forever.

The new album from Four Tet offers a mellow take on electronic and dance music that sticks to a more ethereal synth sound. At times the songs may go on a little long, but with eight songs, the 45-minute album goes by quickly. Overall, “Three” is a pleasant listening experience and a solid release from Hebden.

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