FOUR TET with CARIBOU , SUNBURNED HAND OF THE MAN , JUNIOR BOYS and RUSSIAN FUTURISTS as part of CARIBOU'S TOOTH AND NAIL PERENNIAL at the Opera House (735 Queen East), Saturday (June 11). $17.50. 416-870-8000, www.rootmeansquare.ca.
Four Tet's Kieran Hebden has absolutely no clue what his new album, Everything Ecstatic, is about. And that's the point.
His fourth release under the Four Tet moniker is a 40-minute-long seizure, a twitchy, unpredictable journey that tramples through genres with little regard to anything other than communicating new ideas from the shattered fragments of the past.
"Just the idea of working with samples and bits of old records to make new music wouldn't really exist without hiphop," he says from his flat in London, where he and his computer mince samples into an eclectic noise stew.
"This is a continuation of those ideas, really."
Branded one of the progenitors of this new music, dubbed folktronica by fans and critics, Hebden sought to escape the stifling captivity of the genre he mapped. Everything Ecstatic is his product.
"I wanted to make a record that was really alive and tense," he says. "A good way to do that was to make it really quickly."
In doing so, he's succeeded in crafting his most aggressive album to date, one that veers wildly from his prior trajectory, drawing him closer to hip-hop's raw, unpolished syncopation.
At times, the spastic drumbeats tumble about like kids caught up in a schoolyard tussle before being seized and swept to the side as Hebden lets loose with his warped-out psychedelia. His plan, it seems, paid off.
"Nothing had time to get tamed or get too kind of polished or precise in any way. The record sounds a little bit manic, like it was only just holding itself together and if you removed just one of the instruments it would all crumble and fall apart."
Hebden is also aware of, and ready to overcome, the challenges of performing with a laptop as his only instrument.
"People see someone standing onstage with a guitar and it's such a familiar thing," he says. "But if you see someone standing onstage and they've got a bunch of computers and stuff, it's hard to wrap your head around what's actually happening."
As for the future of Four Tet, Hebden acknowledges that he can't see that far ahead.
"I can't even imagine what my music is going to sound like in a couple of years' time," he says, noting that he just doesn't want to get stuck. "I'm always kind of changing it up and finding new ideas and places for it to go.
"That's the mentality behind it, the idea of constant development."