Four Tet | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Four Tet 

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On Everything Ecstatic (Domino), the fourth album by Kieran Hebden's solo project Four Tet, the sampling maven makes an abrupt change of course. As he's explained in interviews, he wanted to rebel against the critics who pigeonholed his previous work as folktronica, one of the more cringe-inducing music-press coinages in recent memory. The album is a shift from the beautiful assemblages of acoustic music he wove together on 2003's Rounds, but the music isn't more difficult now--what's changed is how much more forceful, austere, and rhythmic the songs are. Like most sample hounds, Hebden was first influenced by electronic dance music, and there are hints of that here, but he's trawling through an esoteric array of vinyl, and most of the music isn't remotely geared for nightclubs. The best songs combine raw, funky breaks with beguilingly simple instrumental figures, like the relentless distorted bass throbs on "A Joy," the vaguely proggy electric piano undulating through "Sun Drums and Soil," or the cycling vibes that cut through the squelchy analog electronics on "High Fives." More exciting than the music, though, is Hebden's willingness to open himself to new ideas. This show is part of the Intonation Music Festival; for a complete schedule see page 40. See also Friday. Sat 7/16, 4:30 PM, Union Park, 1501 W. Randolph,, $15. All ages.

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