Friday, January 22, 2021

Four Tet - Sixteen Oceans - album review

Quite possibly one of the best albums of 2020 so far, ‘Sixteen Oceans’ was released on March 13th, around the time in which many around the country were gradually retreating into their homes, and locking down.

‘Sixteen Oceans’ proved to be a saving grace during the mass lockdown, providing peace and much needed clarity at a time of extreme uncertainty.

Before beginning on the album review, it is important to look at what  DJ, Producer, and underground legend Kieran Hebden (Four Tet) has been busy doing.

Four Tet has been especially busy during the lockdown period, recording an incredible isolated Boiler Room session from a remote cabin in the woods, to releasing tracks that many have been demanding for years, and most recently doing a live set for BBC Radio 1′s weekend of Dance music.

However, this consistency is no surprise coming from an artist who has maintained the same level of work for the past two decades. A producer who has worked with the likes of Lana Del Rey, Explosions in the Sky, and Black Sabbath, whilst also being heavily involved with projects with Jazz drummer Steve Reid, and Thom Yorke from Radiohead. There is no questioning Hebden’s diverse range of musical influences, which has manifested itself into this brilliant new album. 

The album has the incredible ability to transport you somewhere far away to a relaxing paradise and provides some real calm amidst the chaos. The mellow synths combined with the eery vocals like that of ‘Romantics’, ‘4T Recordings’ which if listened to carefully, on a walk through the woods, can place you in a meditative state, and ‘Baby’ which features the brilliant voice of Ellie Goulding allow you to fully remove yourself from a broken world and into a utopian paradise.

Similarly, this is also apparent with ‘School’, and ‘Something in the Sadness’, they relate back to Hebden’s 2017 album ‘New Energy’ through songs such as ‘Two Thousand and Seventeen’, and ‘Lush’.  In fact, there are many similarities we can compare between the two albums. They both consist of down-beat, lo-fi tracks that help you disengage from real life, combined with tracks that are ready-made for after parties, such as ‘Insect Near Piha Beach’.

Once more, these ready-made quirky-techno tracks that we have become so accustomed to with Four Tet provided even more hope for the future, in the sense that we will one day rave and party again, in the forms of ‘Love Salad’ and ‘School’. We know for sure that once everything reopens fully, and we can frequent festivals again, Four Tet will be leading the charge, sitting on a catalogue of new and old music.

You get the sense that Hebden found some comfort in the making of this record, whilst simultaneously doing the same for each listener, a moment of gratitude for his incredibly prolific and ever-evolving career. It is highly recommendable to listen to this album in its entirety in one sitting, whilst out walking or meditating to fully appreciate the greatness.

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