The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

“You Were There With Me” – An Introduction to Four Tet

In the two decades since he released his low-key debut album Dialogue in February 1999, musician and producer Kieran Hebden, more commonly under his performance moniker Four Tet, has become one of the most distinctive artists from the British Isles in the 21st century. Mixing beats, samples and other turntablist skills with a great deal of live instrumentation and drum tracks, to create a compelling hybrid of the organic and the electronic, Hebden has always been a musician much in demand.

On top his recorded output as Four Tet, now spanning nine full-length albums, Hebden has also worked prodigiously as a remixer for artists both emerging and established, re-wiring and re-tooling songs from Beth Orton, Super Furry Animals and Radiohead to Ellie Goulding, Madvillain and Black Sabbath. Some of his best efforts in this field were collected for the fascinating 2006 compilation Remixes, which featured Hebden’s remixes of other people’s work on one disc and other artists’ takes on his Four Tet work on the second. He’s also collaborated with British dubstep producer Burial, Radiohead’s Thom Yorke, and jazz drummer Steve Reid among many others, and his live DJ sets are legendary.

Music video for ‘She Moves She’

Before he began exploring music on his own as Four Tet, Hebden was a member of the post-rock/electronica trio Fridge in the mid- to late-Nineties, which he formed with childhood classmates and continued throughout his degree in maths and computer studies at Manchester University. They released three acclaimed albums in consecutive years, but at the same time Hebden released a single, ‘Double Density’, under his solo Four Tet moniker, which focused much more on his skills as a turntablist, sampler and arranger. A handful of EPs and singles built up to his debut at the start of 1999, and Dialogue and its two successors Pause(2001) and Rounds(2003) led to Hebden’s work being dubbed ‘folktronica’ – music that was unmistakably electronic in origin, often built on hip-hop or house beats but embellished with elements of acoustic and woodwind instrumentation.

While this slightly burdensome tag, which Hebden’s spent at least three-quarters of his career trying to distance himself from, might end up being his most well-known legacy, there’s so much more to him than that, to which 20 years and nine studio albums’ worth of music will attest.

Listen to our ‘Four Tet: An Introduction’ playlist over at Spotify, and explore our guide to his albums on the next page!

Happy listening!

Influenced: Radiohead, Animal Collective, The Avalanches, Jon Hopkins, M83, Röyksopp, Bonobo, Burial, Hot Chip, Fuck Buttons, Flying Lotus, Caribou, The xx, Joy Orbison, Darkstar, Oneohtrix Point Never, James Blake, Tim Hecker, Mount Kimbie, Gold Panda, Alt-J, Floating Points, Ghostpoet, Rival Consoles, Washed Out, How To Dress Well, Blanck Mass, Holly Herndon, Baths, Forest Swords, Maribou State, Arca, Kaytranada, Bicep

Influenced by: Brian Eno, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, Tortoise, Talking Heads, David Holmes, The Orb, Aphex Twin, Squarepusher, Autechre, Orbital, Leftfield, Underworld, Massive Attack, Portishead, Tricky, Modeselektor, DJ Shadow, Nightmares On Wax, Boards Of Canada

An Introduction to Four Tet

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