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Four Tet - My Angel Rocks Back and Forth

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Artist: Four Tet

Album: My Angel Rocks Back and Forth

Label: Domino

Review date: Oct. 12, 2004

Four Tet gets a rather royal remixing treatment, with a package containing both a CD and a DVD. The CD portion includes the album version of the title track, taken from Rounds, with a remix by Icarus and three other songs. The album version is, of course, the same vaguely sad-yet-pretty song, with a sentimental piano riff and slow rhythm that sounds like a quiet steam engine moving steadily along. The Icarus remix is a conglomeration of dissociated, abstract sounds, the piano looped and the rhythm clanking forward, until later it gets heavy and brings in obscure vocals from somewhere. It's actually nice to only have two versions of the title track (especially with the remix so different from the original), rather than the too-common strategy of filling an EP with a half-dozen remixes.

The other remix here is a version of "First Thing/Chia" by Isambard Khroustaliov, filled with very abstract arrhythmic sounds that get progressively richer and more thick as the song goes on, until by the end it's become a really nice percussive soup. The remaining two tracks are previously unreleased. "I've Got Viking In Me" is a brief, somewhat meaningless extra, like static noises laid over a foghorn, while "All The Chimers" is, sure enough, a collection of chimes layered into a short ditty.

The DVD has a slightly higher hit ratio. The title track's video is an elegant black-and-white animation that does a fine job of matching the ghostly feel of the music. Director Woof Wan-Bau seems to combine cut-outs with filmed backgrounds and computer-generated imagery, and the result is imaginative and dreamy. "She Moves She" is almost the exact opposite, featuring super-saturated colors and kaleidoscopic geometrics that are both architectural and electronic. The fast-paced song is echoed by the quick-moving visuals.

Dougal Wilson's video for "As Serious As Your Life" doesn't work as well. As the video cuts between various Morris dancing troupes, the edits don't sync with the music, giving it a jarring feel. Ultimately the video seems like a slightly clever idea that doesn't pay off. The final video, for "No More Mosquitoes," takes the childlike repetition of the song and gets surreal with it. Gordon Sharples channels the early Residents videos ("Hello Skinny" in particular comes to mind) and manages to catch the edge between creepy and cute.

This package can't help feeling like a grab-bag of Four Tet miscellany, but some of the collection is certainly worthwhile, particularly for real fans. As is usually the case with remix EPs, only some of the songs are really noteworthy.

By Mason Jones

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