Review: Rounds – Four Tet

Genre: Experimental / Folktronica

Released in 2003, Rounds presents a palette of sounds designed to satisfy the experimental music lovers out there, but yet not entirely alienating the occasional listener.

Experimental music is a niche genre, and its often perceived as just noise to non-listeners. However, Four Tet has managed to package and deliver songs that, in their entirety, seem palatable to people outside of this niche circle. Combining glitchy, staccato samples with twinkly-toe melodies, this album can be viewed as an entry album for people who are starting out in this genre.

She Moves She brings to us a driving breakbeat rhythm coupled with sitar-like sounds and twinkly melodies, punctuated with glitches that play out in sync. The simple breakdown allows us a breather amidst the organised mess of sonic pleasure.

The key track, My Angel Rocks Back And Forth, features a pump-like sound as its basic rhythm. I’ve read that the percussion resembles that of an iron lung pump, and I couldn’t describe it any better. The main melody is simple and sweet, with a child-like innocence to it. Emanating a melancholic feel, it is hard not to associate somewhat bleak images to this song. Perhaps an elderly in his/her last moments, thinking about the good old days? Or, deriving from the iron lung description, a child who has to spend the rest of his/her life in an iron lung? The latter image has stuck with me, as the title’s reference of an angel rocking back and forth could very well be the iron lung’s pump working tirelessly to sustain this child’s fragile state. Nevertheless, this track is depressingly beautiful.

Spirit Fingers is a frantic, fast-paced number that features guitar sounds meshed together with distant bells sounding off in the background, while Unspoken is an almost-10mins long downtempo track that will definitely leave everyone feeling all relaxed after a long day at work. As Serious As Your Life adds some spice through the means of a funky sounding guitar riff, and a distorted drum rhythm section as the track progresses, while Slow Jam closes the album in an uplifting, feel-good fashion, with a rubber duckie sample to boot!

While I believe that everyone perceives songs differently, I honestly believe this album can provide listeners with the power of introspection through its music. Take a step back. Have some time to yourself, put those earphones on, and confront those doubts, those what-ifs, that you’ve pushed way back into your mind.

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