Saturday, April 18, 2009

Kieren Hebden & Steve Reid - NYC

Kieren Hebden & Steve Reid - NYC

NYC (CD) – Domino

Kieran Hebden loses the Four Tet moniker again for this instrumental album with jazz drummer extraordinaire Steve Reid, their fourth expedition together. As its title intimates, it's an homage to New York with most of the songs paying particular attention to specific NYC locales. Those tunes comprise a flyby visit to the city with two tunes, the slow descent of "Arrival" and the ambient exit of "Departure," bracketing the trip. NYC attempts to capture the city's fizz and sizzle with limited instrumentation, relying very heavily on Reid's drumming and Hebden's ever-inspired knob fiddling. And since it was crafted within two days in a New York studio, the collaboration also bears a loose, improvisational sound. With its rumbling bass and skittering drums, "Lyman Place" begins like a number from a gritty David Holmes soundtrack, while eventually transmogrifying into something akin to a jet taking off. Then the clamor of “1st & 1st” approximates the hurly burly of that East Village intersection, which Seinfeld’s Kramer described as “the nexus of the universe.” Later, "Between B & C" commences with a sample of melodic guitar, bearing a hint of Alphabet City’s Latin influence, and also proves the disk’s most accessible track. NYC rounds out with “Departure,” a comparatively minimalist track, featuring accelerating Reich-like tintinnabulation. Like all of these tracks, it’ll provide challenging, yet rewarding grist for your ear. – Robert Stribley

This review was originally published in Skyscraper Magazine, Issue 30 (Spring 2009)

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