KEXP : Where the Music Matters
macedonia on 04/17/2010 at 12:22PM
I was at work on Tuesday, April 13, 2010 when I got the news that legendary drummer Steve Reid had passed away. Not even a week after the death of Malcolm McLaren, my heart was heavy that day. With all of the amazing accomplishments that Reid achieved during the course of his life (as well as the wealth of talented musicians he played with), I can't help but think of his collaborations with Kieran Hebden a.k.a. Four Tet. Their conversations between drums and electronics were something really special and it caused me of have Four Tet on the brain while Reid was on my heart.
It was about five years ago that I went to see an in-store appearance by Four Tet at Other Music in New York City. Surrounded by an arsenal of keyboards, drum machines and effect boxes, it was there that I witnessed first hand his love for improvisation. Even while performing songs like "Smile Around The Face" or "Sun Drums and Soil," the random bursts of noise threatened to run some onlookers out of the place. It was as if Hebden was saying to the crowd, "If one of you refer to what I do as 'folktronica' one more time..."
For all of the melody and beauty his recordings possess, it was clear that Four Tet wasn't interested in his performances sounding just like the record. There was an element of "OUT" that was being unleashed. He wanted the music to get "free." By that rationale, it was only a matter of time before he would cross paths with Steve Reid. I will forever be in debt to Kieran Hebden: it was through him that I was introduced to Reid's music. Both volumes of The Exchange Sessions remain phenomenal recordings in my mind, these one-take moments of unbridled energy. You can tell the chemistry that Hebden and Reid had together just by listening to those albums. They didn't have to exchange words; all they had to do was meet up in the music.
"Angel Echoes" is the opening cut from Four Tet's latest album, There Is Love In You. This version was recorded live in the studios of KEXP earlier this year and aptly showcases Hebden's on-the-fly performance style. The beats that usher us in to this selection slowly give way to sparkling tones and vocal cut-ups, making this song one of his most touching and poignant selections. Put this one on and think of the living legacy of Steve Reid's music as well as the continuing tradition of rhythmic freedom that Four Tet provides within his own...