Saturday, March 24, 2007

Four Tets, Two Cats & One Tongues

Domino, 2007

A live clip makes for a good introduction to Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid's Tongues, especially the YouTube vid below of them playing "Brain," a slightly longer version of a similarly named track on Tongues:

According to the CD's skimpy liner notes: "All tracks are live takes with no overdubs or edits." So if you're a fan of live music (particularly, noisy electronic music), the exaggerated hum of Hebden's amps on every track will be mother's milk to you. If you expect a bit more polish for your pound of flesh, or if you insist on knowing why the album is called Tongues and what's that got to do with the titles of the individual tracks for cripes sake, then you may want to look elsewhere. To the Steve Reid Ensemble's Spirit Walk CD (Soul Jazz, 2005) just maybe, whereon Hebden's electronic squargles are kept at a respectful distance by three or four guys wielding saxophones and another, a really big bass.

Tongues, Hebden and Reid's third recorded one-on-one, plays its faux live set vibe with a heavy hand, but the music is intriguing and demanding enough for repeated listens. Nevertheless, the tension created by electronic noises (structured and unstructured) in contest with a veteran soul-bearing rhythm machine can't please everyone. To cut to the chase, the following people should exercise caution (and not only when driving alone):
  • Four Tet fans who like melodic electronics with their easy beats
  • Steve Reid fans who like to hear his drumming
  • Jazz purists who dream of busting up John Zorn's studio
  • Noise purists who think drum kits are a rationalist fetish
  • Anyone for whom the sound of a miked amp is an unwelcome trigger to violence
Josh Zanger runs through several other caveats in his Lost at Sea review of Tongues. Read that if you think I'm makin' this stuff up.

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