Four Tet - Everything Ecstatic
Back in 1996, DJ Shadow kicked off his classic album Endtroducing with a sample declaring "I'm a student of the drum". The genius of that record wasn't just in Shadow's breaks, however, but the lush, evocative sounds accompanying them.
Kieran Hebden (a.k.a. Four Tet) admits to making "drum intensive" records and that this one is exceptionally so. Despite the title, Everything Ecstatic is "electronica" rather than "dance" music; this is more about intricate arrangements than getting people on their feet.
It begins well with the heavy rumble of A Joy, and, indeed, ends nicely enough with what sounds like wind chimes on the delicate You Were There With Me. In between, there are a fair number of fine tracks, such as the single Smile Around the Face and Sun Drums and Soil, perhaps the closest thing here to the style of the aforementioned DJ Shadow, thanks to its teasing use of vocals, jazz trappings and a slow-building intensity.
What's lacking from the album is perhaps best demonstrated by Sleep, Eat Food, Have Visions. Yes, it's undoubtedly smart, with a sudden twist near the halfway mark, as electronic noodling gives way to "jackhammer" drums; yet it's an endeavour which leaves one feeling rather cold.