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World Music CD Reviews North American

Kieran Hebden & Steve Reid

By Bruce Miller
Published October 30, 2008

NYC
Domino

A few years ago, when electronic sound sculptor Kieran Hebden (also known as Four Tet) hooked up with legendary drummer Steve Reid (who'd done time as a Motown house player, kept time behind an ‘80s-era Miles Davis, and grounded an impressive list of jazz legends in the ‘60s and ‘70s), it seemed an odd pairing. Their initial releases showed Hebden out of his league in an improvisatory setting, while Reid, perhaps every bit as confused, simply set the groove. Yet they must have enjoyed themselves, as this album, their fourth, finally shows them settling in, complimenting each other, and in the process, coming up with a semi-organic, rhythm-based pulse that defies quick labels. The album's longest track, "Arrival," builds from a hyper-repetitive center, which Reid holds in place. Over this, Hebden's electronic swooshes are made melodious by sparse chords from his guitar. Thanks largely to Reid's sense of timing and his willingness to challenge himself, Hebden, whose Four Tet work is always highly lyrical as well as rhythmic, finds a perfect musical sparring partner. NYC finds the duo successfully defending their raison d'etre.