Four Tet – Angel Echoes (Remixes) Review

12 Aug

Four Tet – Angel Echoes (BBC Live Session)

On July 19th, Four Tet’s (Kieran Hebden) single  “Angel Echoes” was released on Domino records.  The original track, packaged with two remixes by Caribou and Jon Hopkins, opens up the UK-resident’s latest LP There Is Love In You. “Angel Echoes” is celestial celebration of angelic choirs that is hypnotic and seductive much like the eerie chants of the mythical Sirens.  Much like the captivating stories about our feathery bird-women, it is this alluring mysticism that we, the listeners, are immediately submerged in: cut-up evanescent voices and melodious murmurs swirl about like new-born tad poles searching for a place to reside between Four Tet’s sparse percussion.  The heavens have opened and the “angel echoes” seem to be a prelude to some transcendental arrival.  But despite our anticipated revealing of the identity behind the “oohs” and “ahhs,” Four Tet quickly detaches the listener from any semantic clues: the language is indecipherable, the voice unidentifiable — we are only given a fleeting glimpse of the unearthly before the choir slowly fades out.

Four Tet – Angel Echoes (Caribou Remix)

The first remix is by Caribou (Dan V. Snaith).  Buoyant toms collapse onto twitching synths, providing a rhythmic and harmonic consistency to Snaith’s interpretation.  The majority of the mix lingers on the oscillating bass line with fragments of Four Tet’s heavenly choir juxtaposed without much modification.  Its discourse is cyclic, a suspended animation, a broken record, fated to regurgitate the same four bars indefinitely.  This “looped” approach feels appropriate to capture Four Tet’s snake charming magnetism, but before we become lost in the rolling monotony, a sweeping cascade of eerie strings and vibrating LFO-driven synths snaps the listener back to that un-spell bound state.  The remix then ends as it began; the droning bass line advances without hesitation before dissipating into a reverberated distance.

Four Tet – Angel Echoes (Jon Hopkins Remix)

The second remix by Jon Hopkins, a producer and musician from the UK (with the likes of our other electronic friends such as Nathan Fake, Four Tet, even Caribou, although originally from Canada currently resides in London) offers another compelling interpretation.  In contrast, if Snaith has grabbed the wheel behind the UK’s electronic scene, Hopkins has remembered his acoustic roots.  Much like Four Tet’s original mix, we witness a slow, minimalistic progression that flickers to the familiar “angel echoes.”  The percussion is more relaxed than Snaith’s production, often barely puncturing the delicate surface of somber piano triplets.  The ending slowly evaporates, trickling away like an ocean’s soft tide.

Both remixes evoke pensiveness, lover’s distance, and a bittersweet tranquility.  Caribou’s production, a style akin to the original, is a remix we might expect.  Yet Hopkin ventures, perhaps regresses, back to the conservative textures of acoustic instruments — layers of acoustic and electronic sounds wash against each other creating vibrant colors much like a kaleidoscope.  Hopkin’s additions are a favorable fit in comparison to Snaith’s, accenting what makes the original track initially captivating.

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