Nearly Perfect Albums – #28

Rounds – Four Tet

According to Neil Young and then St Etienne ‘Only Love Can Break Your Heart’.  I’m prepared to bet a rather large bag of doughnuts that Neil Young has never listened to ‘My Angel Rocks Back and Forth’ by Four Tet.  That folks with break your heart into two very even and symmetrical parts and leave you weeping like a lovesick puppy, on the kitchen floor. 

My Angel Rocks Back and ForthFour Tet (2003, Domino Records)

It is simply one of the most beautiful pieces of music you will ever hear.  It is essentially a ballad with no words, that chimes and tinkles away at your senses.  It is led by that most post rock of instruments, a harp, which is plucked (or in this case I imagine, sampled) away sweetly while a scratchy beat whispers alongside it.  Its marvellous in a “man I must stop chopping onions whilst listening to this track kind of way”.

As marvellous as it is, ‘My Angel Rocks Back and Forth’ isn’t even the best track on this album.  For that you have to look at ‘As Serious as your Life’ which blends Tibetan chimes, strings, acoustic guitars and then mutates them all together until it sounds like nothing on earth.  Its utterly unique and utterly amazing. 

As Serious as your Life – Four Tet (2003, Domino Records)

That’s the thing with ‘Rounds’ it’s unique.  There is simply nothing that sounds anything like it.   Here stands a record that was recorded, mixed and probably produced on a laptop, and it sounds otherworldly, timeless, heartfelt and incredible.  A record that was so hard to pigeonhole that the NME created an entirely new genre for it and then immediately made Four Tet the flagbearers for that scene.  They called it ‘Folktronica’, though it was quickly, like, nearly all of the other scenes that the NME invented, ignored.  ‘Rounds’ is a dance record, simple as that.  It’s just a dance record that you don’t want to dance to, because you want to listen to its intricate beauty, the way harps mix with hip hop beats, or the way that weird noises merge together to make a noise like no instrument on earth should sound like.

She Move She – Four Tet (2003, Domino Records)

I can see why they coined the genre ‘Folktronica’ though, it is an album heavily influenced by folk music. But its also an album influenced by hip hop (‘She Moves She’ clearly has its roots set in hip hop) and R & B.  But ultimately it’s the uniqueness that sets this aside, ‘Spirit Fingers’ for instance, mixes perfectly a violin led jig against what sounds like a house beat, its insane but it makes you giddy with its hypnotising brilliance.

Spirit Fingers – Four Tet (2003, Domino Records)

The Sunday Shuffle – #13

Break My Body – Pixies (1987, 4AD Records, Taken from ‘Surfer Rosa’)

Last Sunday I went for my weekly run.   Every week at the end of the run, my watch downloads a load of stats and stuff into an app that I use to monitor performance, times, distance, and all that.  It also tells me that I should change my running shoes every 400 miles.  Last Sunday’s run clocked up the 395th mile completed in my current trainers.

So for this weeks randomly shuffled song I decide to post the song that was playing on my iPod Nano at the very moment that my watch tells me that I had reached 400 miles in these trainers.  

My main running route can best be described as undulating, I live in Devon and its hilly but over time I have crafted a circular 10km course from my doorstep and on this day I decide to do that run.  The five mile point is roughly the point where I run past my daughters school in the middle of the village that I live in. 

And….it would appear that my iPod has developed a sense of humour, because at the precise point when the trainers had run 400 miles , ‘Break My Body’ by Pixies was playing and at that point I would have looked a lot like a beetroot that had grown legs and run 5 bloody miles.

I plod on regardless, determined to make it to 401 miles in these shoes, sadly it’s uphill most of the way back from middle of the village but slowly I make it, two songs help me on my way the first is almost in complete contrast to ‘Break My Body’ because its by Four Tet and the calm brilliance of Four Tet gives me the energy to trot up the final hill.

128 Harps – Four Tet (2012, Domino Records)

Four Tet are replaced about 500 metres from home by

October Swimmer – JJ72 (2000, Columbia Records, Taken from ‘JJ72’)