It’s rare that an artist hits an ambitious creative streak in the second half of their career. Four Tet (Aka Kieran Hebdan) has been making albums since the late 90s/early 00s yet it’s with recent albums that he’s seen success in that he’s played alongside key modern-figures in Electronic music like Skrillex and Jamie XX.
Morning/Evening is a reflection of his new-found ambition in music and that’s not to undermine any of his previous work. He’s found this ambition in his music through playing the songs off of his last album Beautiful Rewind in a live set for much longer periods than their original runtime. Morning/Evening is daring and sees Four Tet expand his sonic landscape, the album is made up of two 20 minute songs with one side obviously called Morning Side and it’s counterpart called Evening Side. Both these tracks utilise repetitive rhythms that seem to act as a representation of a day in the life. The songs progress extremely slowly often using the same beat or sample for an extended amount of time, it’s a reflection of the repetitiveness of every day life.
The way these songs progress is often similar to compositions from classical music or even post-rock bands like Godspeed You! Black Emperor. The songs build for such a long period of time before sweeping away the rug and leaving us with pure minimalism. Although it represents the monotony of daily life, Four Tet finds a certain beauty in it. After the Morning Side opens with skittering drum patterns for just over a minute Hebdan pays homage to his Indian heritage by using vocal samples from Lata Mangeshkar, the Indian singer who had a seven decade career. The vocals smoothly flow over the top of the composition with Four Tet occasionally manipulating them or extending them until the music becomes dream-like. If the album is a representation of daily life then it’s not a negative one, it’s saying that the routines of people’s days are a stunning journey that each have individual moments of beauty in them, and the compositions reflect this with random flutterings of synths showing up every now and again.
The second half of this album unfolds in a much slower way that it’s predecessor with a series of synths overlapping each other and swelling. There’s a certain darkness to the composition but not in a sinister manner. It’s a beautiful darkness like watching the sun very slowly set, and the compositions sound extremely airy and spacious to show this. The way there are synths piled on top of each other with some more Indian vocals pushed right into the distance in the mixing almost makes it sound as if the morning was a faint memory.
On the final moments of both tracks there are distinct changes in style. These changes aren’t done too coherently but they hint at pure ambition. On side one we get pure minimalism to end the morning with just a few synth lines remaining, and on the second side we have a continuous drum beat to end the evening, almost like a celebration for the end of the day. The second track ends in the same way that many people do for their working week in that they celebrate and go out. Of course much like when you go out on the weekend it very rarely actually finishes with a bang, you go to bed with a banging headache and fade out, which is exactly what this composition does as anticlimactic as that may seem. Morning/Evening isn’t a perfect album, but it’s one that cements Four Tet’s place as still being a key player in Electronic music.