Four Tet – Three (Text Records) 13th Floor Album Review)

Since first encountering his installment of the excellent DJ Kicks series released in 2006, I’ve taken a casual interest in the output of Keiran “Four Tet” Hebden.

Although I can’t claim to rush to nab his releases – I do have his There Is Love In You album from 2010, and I loved his work with Madlib on 2021’s Sound Ancestors – his music is engaging enough to generally gain my attention.
Amid the plethora of diverse albums offered for review by 13th Floor boss man Marty Duda, this is the one release that truly had me clicking to YouTube to explore further.
As well as his assorted remixes and improvisational pieces, Four Tet delivers original soundscapes which follow the lineage of the likes of Kraftwerk, The Orb and other techno innovators and blend in what sounds like traditional ethnic influences and more mystical song structures. On this album, that style is reflected early on, with Gliding Through Everything and Storm Crystal’s both taking the listener on a gentle aural journey. If you like to take hallucinogens and trip out on the groovy sonic textures, then the opening few cuts are perfect for you.
Daydream Repeat lifts the tempo several notches and shoves a bleeps minimalist techno beat underneath a melodic harp line – the result being something akin to a misplaced closing-credits tune on a swords-and-sandals drama. You’ll tap your foot or nod your head, perhaps even give a quiet “ooonce ooonce” under your breath. There’s more of that later with the excellent 31 Bloom, which would sound very nice on a proper club rig. Likewise the highlight, the excellent closer When You Cant Stop Dancing.
Skater drops us back into classic trip-hop territory – think DJ Krush or some of the early Mo’ Wax material of yesteryear.  Again, the formula is the same: a beat with traditional instruments and wafty samples overlaid. So Blue does the same thing again, only differently.
Three Drums is the other stand-out cut, a sort of big-beat meets ambient mash-up which does feel rather like an outtake from Sound Ancestors, albeit without the authentic funkiness only Madlib and a handful of beat-makers properly execute.
I listened to Three on a wet, cold and windy mid-winter night. The rain made noise on our roof and then gurgled down the drain pipes on our house. In a weird synchronicity, those nature sounds rather fitted with Three – gentle but consistent backdrops to what Four Tet delivers here.
This isn’t really electronic music for the dance floor or festival  – it’s just a bit more contemplative and sophisticated than that.
The problem is it’s just not super memorable. I mean, I like it – and it’s beautifully engineered, as you’d expect – but ultimately it’s another Four Tet album which proves he’s very talented…but might just be better when he has someone else’s influence and taste to bounce ideas off.
To use my usual “will I buy it on vinyl?” barometer, the score is “yes, maybe, if it was at a discounted price”.
Jeff Neems