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Review: Four Tet – Morning/Evening


“If you’re all about the destination, then take a fucking flight”
Frank Turner, The Ballad of Me and My Friends

What strange and lovely little surprise is this? On June 21, English electronic musician Four Tet quietly released his latest LP, Morning/Evening, via Bandcamp. No fanfare, no big press tour, just the songs available in a free format, which is really an absolutely splendid little treat from one of the more intriguing electronic artists of the last 10 years. Four Tet is by no means an underground artist at this point, so it stands to wonder why he would choose such a modest release. On inspection, however, it becomes terribly clear as to why he would choose to do so. Morning/Evening isn’t the sort of record that leaps out at you, twists and turns in a ludicrous number of directions and wows you at every turn. It’s a stripped-back, low-key slow burn that peels back slowly and reveals a little bit more of its mysteries with every subsequent listen. This reserved sensibility is felt in its structure too. Despite its 40-minute length, the album contains a mere two tracks, ‘Morning Side’ and ‘Evening Side’, both of which clock in at about 20 minutes apiece and bring to mind past masters like Manuel Göttsching’s E2-E4 and David Sylvian and Holger Czukay’s Plight and Premonition. It uses its limited scope to explore a day in the life of its creator.

‘Morning Side’ is a deeply relaxed, beat-heavy, ode to a summer morning. The track is covered in that Miller Time/Golden hour glow, where everything is that wonderful shade of orange, and the sun is preparing to rise above the landscape and do its job for the day. Everything has this languorous mentality. It is music for a day when you’re woken up by the first beams of light crossing the galaxy and sliding into your retinas. After a few minutes of being caressed by this deeply cozy lethargy, the album introduces us to its primary sample, an excerpt from Indian legend Lata Mangeshkar’s ‘Main Teri Chhoti Behana Hoon’ from the film Souten. It’s a strange sample that comes mostly out of left field, but somehow fits perfectly fits. When smothered by Four Tet’s 808 beats and bloops, Mangeshkar’s vocal takes on a much more ethereal and nostalgic tone; the flickering ghosts of childhood past and the last remnants of the innocence that come back in the gentle morning. Everything is static and relaxed and we’re fixed, reminiscing on all these fragments floating around in our heads.

When the morning and the day is done, we move on to the Evening, a much colder, darker experience. We’re initially greeted with a Burial-like opening: glitchy drums and otherworldly instrumental squawks that slide fluidly in and out of the mix. This gives way to a slightly warmer, deep bass synth beckoning the listener on to what the night might have in store, be it a quiet time in, a night out in the club or a gentle wander through the city streets alone. Only by following will you find out. As the night goes on, that same sense of comfort and nostalgia comes back, along with Mangeshkar’s vocals, before finally giving way to the drum-filled finale of the evening. In the end, it’s an album all about the journey. There are no highlights as such; the whole experience is to be taken in its entirety. It’s an almost Ulyssian, or probably more appropriately Dazed and Confused, examination of day. Nothing really happens, our main player doesn’t experience a major epiphany and change their lives; they simply pass through it and reveal only what we choose to see. As a listener you get what you give. It’s a deeply hypnotic album, one that is begging you to get lost in it. Will Murphy