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Four Tet / Pantha du Prince / Rocketnumbernine

Edinburgh Bongo Club (Saturday 13th March)

By • May 16th, 2010 • Category: Gig review

This was one of those gigs you know you just have to attend although you just don’t know why. Four Tet / Keiran Hebden has, for over a decade, provided me with so much listening pleasure over his time in Fridge, solo and under the banner of Four Tet.
Yet I had a whole heap of reservations and fears around the concept of Four Tet as a live concern. I invited my friend Chris along and I’m glad he was familiar with Rounds and of an adventurous bent as far as music goes because I’m sure I was selling the whole idea pretty poorly. Maybe it’s a defence mechanism: sell the whole thing really short, lower expectations and anything remotely positive is a victory. Of sorts. It will probably be a night of pasty faced guys noodling away on their laptops utterly unaware they aren’t still locked in their bedroom studios was one of my unique selling points. Why Chris risked the journey with me after a sales pitch like that I’ll never know but we both enjoyed ourselves immensely. Not in a ‘that wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be’ way, more a ‘Wow! That was fucking amazing’. A resounding rather than a small victory.
Rocket Numebr Nine
The Bongo Club is a compact, rather lovely venue with it’s oddly angled stage and the setting for another of my favourite live nights a few years back when I saw the Silver Jews on their first visit to Scotland. After a blinding set we briefly spoke to Dave Berman and his wife and fellow band member Cassie. I was far too nervous to engage though they seemed like utterly lovely people. Tonight as we take up our spots in the venue we spot a familiar figure in front of us as the first support band sets u. That unruly yet perfectly sculpted Afro, duffel coat and backpack. Yup, it’s Mr Hebden himself. I’m contemplating accosting, I mean approaching him, probably to babble incoherently and possibly frighteningly, about how much his music means to me but then rocketnumbernine kick off and I kinda forget he’s there.

A duo, rocketnumbernine are a keyboard/laptop/technician and a drummer who seamlessly shifts between an acoustic and electronic drum kit. Their set builds up slowly and incrementally until it’s an awesome, all engulfing blissful miasma of sounds. A simplistic, but probably appropriate description would be a Can / Silver Apples hybrid for the post-rave generation. There’s a raw primitivism to their sound while at the same time they sound so perfect for these times. There are no breaks between songs, no ‘Hello Edinburgh we are…’ and no visuals but the racket they produce is amazing, you just lose yourself in the sound as they slowly but surely drag you into their world.
Partha Du Prince
Pantha du Prince is one man and his machines. Things start off gently, the sound is delicate and introspective but becomes more expansive and involving. He seems quite wrapped up in his own little world, hood up, odd little jerks and movements but it’s a world that is not unenticing. In fact it’s lovely. The thunderous rhythms and sheer physicality of the bass are tempered by some outrageously gorgeous tones and riffs. When he dances it’s so self-concious yet, paradoxically so unaware. Cruelly I think, ohmygod, it’s Alan Partridge trying to impersonate Ian Curtis but that passes and I find myself utterly absorbed throughout a set of endless peaks and plateaus of intelligent, soulful electronic music.

Four Tet eschew visuals tonight. It’s just Hebden, several laptops and an assortment of gadgets. Any disappointment in the stripped down stage tonight is wiped away within seconds of the opening bars of ‘Angel Echoes’. On the current album There Is Love In You it clocks in at four minutes. Tonight it’s torn apart, re-assembled and stretched to eight or nine minutes and sounds even more fantastic, forceful and ethereal. Four TetRather than just a guy ‘noodling’ on his laptop Hebden is more a magician or alchemist of sound, building new things out of already splendid source materials. The set is exhilarating, I can’t stop moving despite the packed out floorspace, neither can most of my fellow audience members. Unlike the previous two bands Hebden pauses between songs before raising the temperature immensely as each new track begins. The set passes in a blur, time seems to stand still. Not for nothing, I think to myself, was his previous album called Everything Is Ecstatic, as waves of euphoria and joy rush over me. Yet it’s triggered only by a response to the music, pure and unmediated, nothing stronger than a couple of lagers has passed my lips tonight. Occasionally something familiar leaps out from the sound but it doesn’t feel important to have something solid to hold onto, the pleasure is immense throughout.

Afterwards I feel utterly energised, totally buzzing. This, a gig I sold short, consciously or unconsciously, ends up being one of the best that I’ve ever attended. How could that have been I keep wondering but it’s still difficult to describe. Magic I guess.

(Thanks to Chris for the photographs. His review of the gig can be found here)

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