As a producer, Four Tet has covered a lot of ground in electronic music. His unique sound has gradually evolved from innocuous folktronica to the deeper and more danceable side of the genre. After this evolution comes the latest installment in the ever growing Fabriclive series. This mix may come as bit of a shock to some, considering the diversity of Hebdan’s earlier sets. A look at his 2006 DJ-Kicks reveals a smorgasbord of different styles – everything from Curtis Mayfield to Animal Collective. Which is why it comes as a surprise to find that Fabriclive 59 is mostly obscure UK garage.
Since Four Tet’s stint as a resident in London’s Plastic People club the number of DJ sets he’s opted for has risen dramatically, clearly having a huge influence on him. The quality of his mixing skills has taken a leap forward, showing fluidity in areas that were once jagged and abrupt. For example, ‘Angie’s Fucked’, one of the stand-out tracks, runs into Burial’s dark and throbbing ‘Street Halo’ with a level of smoothness that’s been absent from most of his previous sets. There’s plenty of one minute snapshots here, like ‘Webers’ and ‘Percussion’, that serve as guides leading up to the weighty tunes on the mix. This technique is used to great effect to highlight ‘Dark Energy’ by STL, where the set notably changes tone and moves into deep house. After 15 tracks of almost exclusively UK garage, this tune serves as a necessary tunnel, taking you down to some of the murky chasms that this mix has to offer.
On the whole, Fabriclive 59 is quite slick but a bit on the flowery side. It’s unashamedly a club mix and Hebdan has even recorded samples of weekend banter from outside the venue and dotted them around the set just to add to the club vibe that he’s trying to create. So if it’s the older, more grounded Four Tet productions like Rounds or Pause that you’re fond of, this one is probably not for you. However, if it’s the collaborations with Burial and Thom Yorke that you consider to be his high points, or if you’re just a fan of UK garage, then this is definitely worth a look.