- Ringer is a tease. Kieran Hebden's ruse on this mini-album is to make you think a breakdown is coming, make you crave it, then draw away when you want it to arrive. In the hands of someone less talented this could easily fail miserably, but such is Hebden's understanding of how the game works, you wonder if he wasn't a stripper in a previous life. These four tracks also suggest his regular sets at Bugged Out! at The End in London appear to have (re)awoken his dancey side: they are Hebdan's most “clubby” cuts since 'She Moves She' on his 2003 album Rounds. The style is still very much Four Tet - organic, folksy, cute and eccentric electronic music - but 'Ringer' comes with lashings of effects reminiscent of Tongues, his recent collaboration with veteran drummer Steve Reid. Throughout are scattered little loops of machines cheerfully purring and cooing, blissfully unaware they're part of a dastardly plot to wind up the listener.
For 'Ribbons' and 'Swimmer', that plot is to eek out enough of a tune to earn your interest but (of course) never drop the whole thing. On 'Ribbons' Hebden unwraps a gorgeous melody played on a triangle, throws in hi-hats, then finally a big indie synth line, which almost immediately drifts away. On 'Swimmer' what sounds like a physics lab oscillator keeps tensions high while drums and fragments of other songs shuttle in and out. It promises the most but, you've guessed it, is the one that stays furthest from giving you what you want.
The title track is one occasion when you do get a breakdown – for just 12 bars. Following eight minutes of something that sounds like a cross between an old Carl Craig record and a John Carpenter soundtrack, you get 32 seconds of heavy drum bliss.
All in all, this a great release that, despite its brevity, gets more rewarding with each listen. It’s a bit like sitting in on the Wolfgang Tillmans piece Lights (Body), which is a gallery installation of club lights with an accompanying techno track which keeps on building but never drops. After sitting through it for twenty minutes you find yourself smiling…through gritted teeth.
04 Wing Body Wing