critically praised electronic music rising star Kieran Hebden has it made. Whether he's jumping genres with his band Fridge -- the rhythm section of choice for Badly Drawn Boy, Electronic and Arthur Baker -- or exploring glitchy soundscapes in his laptop-equipped Four Tet guise, everything the 20-something South Londoner touches seems to be lauded with the breathless acclaim usually reserved for overpaid pro athletes.
His first two Four Tet singles, Thirtysixtwentyfive and Misnomer, both took single-of-the-week honours from NME, which is swell. But what makes the acknowledgement impressive is that the music really isn't all that special -- it's the associated hipness factor. The intriguing bit about Hebden is that each recording he puts out sounds like it was done by a different artist. That's the key to his mystique.
On the basis of his prior jittery Four Tet outings, it's surprising to hear how downright ambient he can get on the quietly moody new Pause (Domino) disc. No wonder he's sick of all the Brian Eno comparisons.
"The funny thing is that I don't actually own any of Brian Eno's classic ambient records," laughs Hebden from a stop in Washington, DC. "I'm not sure if I've even heard them.
"I just happened to make my new record at one of the calmer points in my life, working late at night in my home. The quieter, soothing sound is just what I wanted to hear."
By making sure each release sounds radically different from the last, Hebden is now enjoying a dabbler's dream situation, where anything he puts out -- however odd -- will be embraced by his audience, who expect only something different.
"I'm never worried about audience expectations because I have no idea what people want to hear. I've met some people who like my really mellow stuff and others who enjoy my heavy club tracks, so I don't feel pressured to move in any particular direction.
"Hopefully, whatever I do next will not be something the listeners expect, but instead something they've never considered."
What's taking up Hebden's time at the moment is his new Text Records label (www.textrecords.co.uk), on which the first release will be the Battle Rhymes For Battle Times 7-inch by Toronto-based producer Koushik, due out early next year.
As it turns out, Hebden was tipped to Koushik's Byrdsian breakbeat science by local electronic boy wonder Dan "Manitoba" Snaith, who knew Koushik from his hometown of Dundas.
It appears that Detroit is done and Dundas, Ontario, is on deck to be the next big scene. Ridiculous, you say? The new single from Manitoba currently climbing the UK charts is called Dundas, Ont. It's on.
"There must be something in the Dundas water, because there's loads of good music being made there right now. It's just a bunch of kids who grew up listening to the Beach Boys and EPMD, but they're doing some really exciting stuff.
"I was thinking of putting together a Dundas compilation, but my concern was whether anyone outside of Hamilton and Burlington would buy it. Only now, with Manitoba's new Dundas, Ont. single getting play."
FOUR TET with DJ FOOD & DK, BONOBO and ANDREW ALLSGOOD at the Reverb (651 Queen West), tonight (Thursday, November 29). $15 advance, $20 door. 416-504-0744.