Active Child aka Los Angeles-based songwriter Pat Grossi, was the first opener for Four Tet’s sold out show at the Echoplex. I’m a huge fan of Four Tet, but I have to admit, Grossi’s ethereal synth pop was the real treat of the night. I wasn’t very familiar with his work going into his show, but I was blown away by the enchanting hymnal quality of his voice. Grossi’s soaring falsetto was beautiful and haunting. His multilayered vocals created a sorrowful choir that was gloomy in the best possible way. Grossi is definitely a musician to watch, and he’ll be back in LA at the El Rey on March 9th.
No one seemed to notice when Nathan Fake started his set. For a solid five minutes, the crowd totally ignored him. Because of all the Boards of Canada comparisons I’ve heard, I had high hopes for Fake, but I found his performance to be totally tedious. Maybe I just don’t get his “progressive house” music, but I found his set to range from boring to jarring and uncomfortable. His video mix was more or less in step with his beats, but like his music, it was entirely uninteresting. However, to his credit, once the audience caught on that he was actually performing, he was able to get a solid dance party going that sustained the rest of the night.
Finally, Four Tet was up. I’ve been following the work of London-based electronic sound collagist Kieran Hebden for years, and his arrival on the stage after Nathan Fake was extremely welcomed. The Echoplex show closed out the American leg of Hebden’s tour for his fifth album, There Is Love In You, released last month by Domino Records. There Is Love In You is the most focused and refined Four Tet album thus far—apparently the result of Hebden’s long stint as a resident DJ at London club Plastic People, where he’d test out his new material. There Is Love In You is Hebden’s first full-length release in five years, but he shows no sign of losing his touch, as this album is one of his most innovative releases to date.
Hebden’s performance was mesmerizing from beginning to end. He layered and looped organic sounds and harmonious melodies, seamlessly creating a hypnotic soundscape. Unlike Fake, Hebden did more than just stand next to his computer banging his head—Hebden’s usual synthesis of acoustic, electric, and digital instruments was enhanced with a lot of nontraditional improvisation, including the use of a tone-generator from his iPhone. Most of his material was from the new album, which was slightly disappointing as I was hoping he’s sneak in some classics from Rounds. It was still an incredible show from one of the most innovative figures in experimental electronica.
—Lainna Fader (words + photo)