The three albums Kieran Hebden, aka Four Tet, released in quick succession: Pause (2001), Rounds (2003) and Everything Ecstatic (2005) represent a high watermark in new forms of pioneering musical creativity. These recordings fine-tuned the techniques of electronic music: sampling, sequencing, tweaking and injected them with an almost alchemical warmth. His ethos and immersion in the process of making an evolving body of work is, according to one of his track titles: "Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions." The result is a highly emotional and thought provoking set of records. Disparate forms such as free jazz, hip hop, concrete tape research music and open string folk tunings are distilled into something that can only be described as sounding like Four Tet.
Kieran formed his first band Fridge with friends Adem Ilhan and Sam Jeffers at Elliott School in The Milk Wandsworth, SW London whilst in their teens. In 1996 Fridge were signed to Trevor Jackson's Output label. Fridge quickly became a spearhead of instrumental post-rock outfits, releasing two albums, Ceefax and Semaphore on Output in 1997 and 1998, before moving onto Go! Beat in 1999 with their third album Eph. During 2000, Fridge spent the summer performing as Badly Drawn Boy's live band, touring festivals in the UK, Europe and Japan.
Alongside all of Fridge's activities, Kieran became a solo producer, releasing work under the name Four Tet, which soon became his main concern. The first two Four Tet singles, "Thirtysixtwentyfive" (a reference to the songs length in minutes and seconds) and "Misnomer," were both NME "Singles of the Week." His debut album, Dialogue (Output, 1999) was released when he was just 21 and explored the outer reaches of both free jazz and soul music. Pause marked Kieran's debut for Domino and immediately set Four Tet apart from the isolated and introverted tendencies of the contemporary electronica of the time. Drawing on harps and folk instruments as well as crisp golden-age-of-hip-hop breaks Pause was a rich, warmly textured set with a fluid sense of its own space. Connecting slowly with a wide audience it proved electronic music could be colourful and seductive. Four Tet's third album Rounds was rightly praised as an epochal release and garnered across the board praise for its bold innovation and intense musicality and saw Four Tet undertake its biggest worldwide tour to date including visits to China and Taiwan. The record's attendant single "As Serious As Your Life" included an exclusive 12'' of remixes from Detroit underground hip-hop legend Jay Dee. The track is a kinetic, refracted tune whose video made Morris-dancing look like the truly psychedelic, mind opening activity it probably is. "Smile Around The Face" just about sums up the experience of listening to Everything Ecstatic an album that celebrates the chaotic potential of making visionary music. The record opens with "A Joy" a pulverised 909 synth trying to hold its own against a barrage of percussion, beats and African drums before giving way to what sounds like Can jamming with Model 500 and from there, there is no let up as Hebden's horizon wide ideas and technical ability spark like fireworks.
Kieran Hebden makes all his music at home on domestic computer equipment. He has no manager and books and organises many of his tours himself and has now undertaken an equally ambitious series of recordings with legendary drummer and musical icon Steve Reid. He continues to explore every corner and idea for inspiration and doesn't look like stopping.