Four Tet, Sunburned Hand of the Man | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Four Tet, Sunburned Hand of the Man 

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Kieran Hebden first turned up playing guitar in the British post-rock band Fridge, but when going solo as Four Tet he comes off like DJ Shadow with a pre-rock record collection. On his third album, last year's Rounds (Domino), Hebden floats a library of acoustic-instrument samples--banjo, harpsichord, kalimba, bass clarinet, glockenspiel, piano, harp--as well as his own spacey keyboard lines over programmed beats ranging from slow-motion rim-shot patterns to frenetic funk breaks. By manipulating the fragments, making them stutter, accelerate, or unfurl in backward motion, he creates a loose sense of narrative; the stories may not have a true beginning or end, but they're beautiful, engaging, and packed with detail. Sunburned Hand of the Man generate all their own noises; they're a sprawling troupe of Boston-area improvisers who've become poster children for what Wire magazine is calling the "new weird America" movement, a frequently maddening jumble of hillbilly music, drone, free improv, psych rock, and noise. The group's recent Rare Wood (Spirit of Orr) is a typically ungainly but fascinating mess: sometimes the various guitarists and percussionists stumble into a thrilling synchronicity, creating multilinear jams that seethe with a sense of danger; other times they sound like hippies on a bad and painstakingly documented acid trip. Kate Simko opens. Tuesday, April 13, 9:30 PM, Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western; 773-276-3600 or 800-594-8499.

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