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Rounds

4.2 out of 5 stars 43 customer reviews

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Audio CD, May 6, 2003
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Editorial Reviews

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Review

(Domino) After first introducing Four Tet on the album Dialogue, it was with the stunning follow-up Pause that Kieran Hebden really turned discerning electronic music heads all the way on. A lovely amalgamation of gentle hip-hop beats, obscure folk influences and music-making software found on the net, the album elicited endless accolades and even generated cheeky new genre tags like "folktronic." The resulting trajectory sent Hebden everywhere from tours with Radiohead and Madlib to remixes for the likes of Aphex Twin and Beth Orton (who’s recruited him to produce her next album). Somewhere in all of that sonic madness he found time to conjure up Rounds, which simultaneously builds and deconstructs the strides made with Pause, resulting in an even more organic blend of quiet but muscular compositions. Opening with the woozily beautiful warm-up "Hands," the album sounds like it was composed by a man in love, especially considering song titles like "She Moves Me" (an Asian-influenced plucked groove augmented by jagged guitar bursts and distant bells) and the sweet, heartfelt harp tones of "My Angel Rocks Back and Forth." Hebden’s sense of humor emerges on "Spirit Fingers" (possibly an homage to teen cheerleading flick Bring It On?), sounding like an army of sped-up mandolins madly carousing with a kinky sampler. This whimsical approach also lightens up "As Serious As Your Life," which dances on a funky guitar melody and a stilted jazz back beat. Closing on the peacefully epic "Slow Jam," Rounds proves that quiet is indeed the new loud.

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Product Details

  • Audio CD (May 6, 2003)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Domino
  • ASIN: B000092Q6L
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (43 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #367,498 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Audio CD
Rounds isn't really a departure from Pause in any way so much as it is a
progression. It's certainly more immediate and focused, and the level of
emotional involvement is certainly much higher this time around. Where Pause
was sometimes noncommital and breezy, this record finds beauty in the cracks of plaster
and shafts of dusty light, and it's certainly a welcome change from most of the
genre's blind and dour worship of the glitch.
"Hands" opens the record with an ascending two-chord progression played by
lightly picked guitar and organ while the drums warm up to a slow but loose
rhythm which seems to wander around the Zildjian section of a music shop,
delighting in everything they find. The familiar atmosphere is here, but
somehow there's a greater sense of urgency as the track builds on a slow
crescendo but never quite releases. It's a powerful opener, evoking a sense of
wide, open spaces, similar in tone to Mum's "Green Grass of Tunnel."
"She Moves She" is the first single, and the first time I heard it, I didn't
care much for it, but hearing it context makes much more sense. It opens with
a limber drum track overlaid with an absent-minded dobro that wouldn't sound
out of place on a Ben Harper record somewhere. In the chorus (of sorts), a
distorted acoustic guitar sample stabs into the mix in a staccato patter just
coherent enough to imply chord changes. It sounds like Fennesz, except more
focused and driven.
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I normally don't bother with reviews (who reads em anyways, besides you) but his bothered me. I have listened to four tet for a while, thinking their remixes of beth orton and radiohead are some of my favs. I have also listened to tortoise for a while too. While they are similar to the unlistened ear he seems to have missed the point about four tet altogether.While Four tet is jazzy-ish, tortoise is jazzy-ful, and four tet have much more groundbreaking electronica credit, which is a hard thing to accomplish this day full of electrosounds. Rounds should probably get a five star it really is incredible, full of emotion and genius. Not to make light of tortoise, they are in my heavy rotation just four tet, but four tet is a different ocean, very swimmable and very unique.
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Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
All tracks are different in their own way. You would need to be a lil bit more of a music nerd to like it though, as I think the average person wouldnt make it thru half these tracks, especially the last one.
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Format: Audio CD
The time has finally arrived for the return of Four Tet's solo member, Kieran Hebden. It's been two long years since the release of his second album, Pause, and since then a number of accolades have been thrown his way for the creative laptop explorations he's come to be known for. With plenty of talent, and a soon-to-be guest spot as the opening act for Radiohead, one could justifiably draw the conclusion that Hebden has clearly impressed all the right people. If you've heard any of his music, you know why he's been getting so much respect over the last several years. His first two albums, Dialogue and Pause, epitomize the idea that quality, original music can be made with nothing more than good software and a computer. What sets Hebden apart from the others in the industry is that only a few are capable of keeping things as fresh as he does with the same amount of tools. With that in mind, it's extremely awe-inspiring to hear the production level of this album considering the type of equipment that was used.
The scope of Four Tet records may remain the same, but there's no doubt in my mind that Hebden keeps getting better with each release. Four Tet's latest effort proves that he is growing artistically, and is continuing to elaborate on the marriage of synthetic and organic sounds. The samples used on Rounds are now more influenced by jazz than folk, and are the key components to discussing this album. The manipulated tape loops and samples of children's voices are just as prevalent here as they have been in the past. Obviously, Hebden is now more concerned by conveying a certain mood, rather than seeing how many times a hundred samples can be manipulated. This is the heart of the album, and in the end, makes for a much superior sound.
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Format: Audio CD
This album uses extensive samples of traditional/folk music and jazz, creating an intimate sound that swings back and forth between lush and sparse. There is a lot of abstraction and a lot of meandering, testing the patience of those looking for some sort of dramatic resolution in everything they hear. I find even these moments rewarding (they are reminiscent Boards of Canada). However, this does not describe the entire cd. Some tracks even qualify as "funky". I actually like these the least, but these songs ("She Moves She" and "As Serious as Your Life") have rated high on the include-on-a-magazine-compilation-o-meter, so draw your own conclusion. I highly recommend the very first track, "Hands", something I was totally unprepared for when i bought this cd. In addition, if you like the abstraction present here, definitely check out "Happiness" by Fridge.
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