Four Tet mastermind Kieran Hebden has staked out a unique cranny in electronic music.
Four Tet mastermind Kieran Hebden has staked out a unique cranny in electronic music. In Hebden's world, elegantly plucked stringed instruments nestle up against sampled rhythms and homespun sound effects. Listening to Rounds is like experiencing Hebden live while he huddles over an array of gear. Opener "Hands" floats in on gauzy, phasing tones, but a jarring noise disruption adds bite to the vaguely Far Eastern "She Moves She." "Spirit Fingers" approximates a wind chime orchestra being ravaged by a tornado, while "My Angel Rocks Back and Forth" merges a stately harpsichord melody with what sounds like sampled deep breaths. Hebden loosens up a bit on "As Serious as Your Life," which gives DJ Shadow a run for his instrumental-hip-hop money. A few cuts are a bit lacking in forward momentum, but Rounds is an ideal headphone soundtrack for just about any adventure.—JC