Technique - The Breakdown

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Four Tet – ‘Angel Echoes’

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The Breakdown is a regular series in which we examine the background context, composition and production of some of our favourite tracks in order to discover what makes them so special. In the latest instalment, we focus on the opening track from Kieran Hebden’s 2010 album, There Is Love In You.

there is love in you

Kieran Hebden’s fifth solo studio album, There Is Love In You, was released on January 25th, 2010. From November 2008 until December 2009, Hebden had held a residency at East London’s Plastic People club. Around the release of There Is Love In You, he spoke about the importance of the club in shaping his own music at the time. The Plastic People residency allowed Hebden to explore and present new music as a DJ, but it also served as a testbed for his own productions. Many of the tracks which would end up on There Is Love In You were initially trialled at Plastic People, and Hebden spoke in interviews around the release about how that context helped to shape the end result.

As such, There Is Love In You represented a clear move towards a slightly more dancefloor-driven, house and techno-influenced sound first explored by Hebden on April 2008’s Ringer EP. The opening track, ‘Angel Echoes’, exemplified this approach, blending dancefloor elements seamlessly with Hebden’s typically experimental, innovative style.

Much Love To Plastic People

In a post on his blog in November 2009, Hebden explained the importance of the residency: “A lot of the music on the new Four Tet album was tested out at these Plastic People nights and this club is a big inspiration to me.”

He also shared details of Much Love To The Plastic People, a mix of key tracks from his residency drawn from a varied group of artists including Pepe Bradock, Don Cherry, Ricardo Villalobos, Marcellus Pittman and Philip Glass. The mix was later made available on his SoundCloud account, and provides an interesting contextualisation of Hebden’s major influences at the time There Is Love In You was made.

Essentially humanly impossible

In an interview with XLR8R in November 2010, Hebden discussed the making of the album: “It is aggressively digital music, basically… Everything is samples to me. Even if I just play a bit of guitar, and record some bits into the computer and then use it like I would use samples of something else. There’s never any live performance of any sort on the records. I’m totally not interested in that at all with the Four Tet project. Everything you hear is essentially humanly impossible a lot of the time.”

It’s a sample-based approach which Hebden continues to pursue. In a recent Twitter Q&A session about the making of his latest album, Beautiful Rewind (Storified in its entirety here), he revealed that the album was made entirely in Ableton Live on a laptop, with 95% of the sounds coming from samples. ‘Kool FM’ is based entirely on samples of the eponymous London pirate station. Likewise, the vocal samples on ‘Gong’ and ‘Buchla’ are sourced from pirate radio, which Hebden professes he wanted to use like an instrument. (The soft synths on ‘Aerial’ make up the remaining 5% of sound sources.)

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  • Words: Oliver Curry & Greg Scarth
  • Date: 29th November 2013
  • Claudio Wrote:

    I didn’t understand quite well those changes on time signatures, but I know this makes a huuge difference on a loop, making it less monotonous. This could turn into a Beat Dissected, don’t you think? This subject on changes in time signatures is a very interesting thing, I think a lot of people would appreciatte. By the way, keep rocking guys! you are amaginz, cheers from Brazil!

  • BS Wrote:

    Awesome. Thanks for this. Going to try that technique of different loop lengths now.

  • Joe Wrote:

    fantastic run through of the structure. i’ve always wondered about his compositions and this article did it justice. very inspirational and great artist.

  • Spurt Bacharach Wrote:

    Carpenters sample…

  • BOB Wrote:

    The sample is just there :DDDDDD

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ssE7dJJ8kdI#t=14

  • Attack Wrote:

    Good spot BOB but ‘Angel Echoes’ came out in 2010 and that track’s from 2013 ;)