In recent weeks, producer Kieran Hebden’s Four Tet has released two new songs with Thom Yorke and Burial, alongside these two new albums. Each track on 871 and Parallel is prosaically numbered in sequence, which hints these are end-of-year data dumps. The horrendous, squalling howls of 871’s opener 0000 871 0001 do little to dissuade this impression. At a time when every cough is a gunshot, you may prefer more felicitous sounds than Hebden scouring his hard drive clean with a metal mop.
Thankfully, most of 871 is rewarding, if occasionally derivative. Its music mostly dates back to 1996, and you can hear the teenaged Hebden essaying plangent shoegaze, ambient techno and trip-hop with varying success and an awful lot of bells. Twenty-five years on, its chaotic ambition sounds comfortingly nostalgic. Parallel is leaner, more purely melodic, and has the advantage of Parallel 1, a glorious 27-minute indulgence which begins unexceptionally then gently wears you down with its symphonic loveliness.
The album never quite knows where to go after that, but there’s plenty of gorgeous pastoral piano and captured birdsong on its rambling path.