Everything Ecstatic: Films & Part 2
The Exchange Session Vol. 1
One of the defining elements of Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet project is the way he’s able to make electronic music that sounds random, taking his songs away from their programmed and sampled roots and into the organic headspace enjoyed by live bands. Last year’s Everything Ecstatic CD was a fine example of his Hebden’s talents, and the newly enhanced edition of that recording confirms it. Subtitled Films & Part 2, this package comes with a DVD featuring videos for each of the album’s 10 songs, plus a five-track CD featuring extended versions, outtakes, and new music. If you don’t already own Everything Ecstatic, this is the version to get.
The Exchange Session Vol. 1 is a logical next step for Hebden: It’s a full-on jam session with jazz drummer Steve Reid. The CD captures an in-studio performance, without overdubs or edits, and the three improvisations run just under 37 minutes. The music is loose and spacey, with Hebden conjuring all sorts of electronic gurgles and Reid’s ambient cymbals warming the proceedings like a gas-cloud blanket. The opening track, “Morning Prayer,” gives a nod to Pharoah Sanders’ track of the same name with its aura of sleepytime mediation and Eastern tonalities. “Soul Oscillations” is grander in scope, lasting more than 14 minutes and jumping from low-key jazztronica to Four Tet-like drone rock. “Electricity and Drum Will Change Your Mind” is the one cut where the energy and focus fade. At just under eight minutes into the 15-minute track, the song breaks down into a passive solo showcase for Reid. He may have wanted to keep with the contemplative spirit of the session, but this is a man who has clicked the sticks for James Brown, Ornette Coleman and Sun Ra—it would have been more fun to hear Reid cut loose.