ow where did I put those pens? Click. Click click. Clickety-click. Clickety-click click click-click.
On a bike, cycling along a canal towpath on a hot summer afternoon, arms glistening with perspiration. You see some swans sculling gently past you. Rushes touch your legs as you flow past them, leaning slightly, first one pedal down to a glide, then the other as you seek to avoid brushing nettles. The quiet knowledge tucked away in the back of your head that you have absolutely nothing to do for the rest of the day other than cycle up this canal as far as you want to go. Maybe a butterfly finds itself entwined with your motion for a few yards, maybe you turn a corner and find yourself enveloped in a cloud of butterflies for a fleeting moment, maybe one of them nearly finds itself in your mouth and you gasp at the idea. Sun-dappled tow paths, lazy canals, meandering games of cricket on village greens...
Pause is the sound of Keiran Hebden relaxing for a while and enjoying the summer, piecing together the rattling of pens, the rustling of paper and the buzzing of insects, constructing music from found-sound building blocks. Much less angular and mathematical in feel than the work of post-rockers Fridge, Hebden’s day-job, Four Tet is his indulgence, a solo side-project producing the kind of ruralistic, childhood electronica that has seen Boards Of Canada so lauded for the last three years. But while BoC are guilty of often descending into long-winded and tuneless atmospherics, Four Tet is considerably more focused and concise, Pause coming in at 11 tracks and under 45 minutes long (45 minutes being, as anyone with any sense knows, the perfect length for an album).
Hebdon’s fondness for real instruments gives Pause a more authentically organic aura than his more purist electronic contemporaries are capable of achieving, much as they may strive for it. Amongst the clicking stationary samples and glitchy effects are to be found sweet pianos and winsome brass, as well as occasional (gasp) guitars and what sound suspiciously like real drums. ‘Everything Is Alright’ drifts along for two and a half minutes in this tunefully natural way, all skittish beats, swirling keys and the kind of stop-start guitar motifs that Akufen is being so highly praised for cutting up at the moment.
This is an album that seems to effortlessly evoke the kind of lazy summer days that everyone claims only ever happened when they were kids. ‘No More Mosquitoes’ picks up on BoC’s trick of sampling children’s voices, but rather than burying them uncomfortably in the mix and trying to unnerve the listener it is beatific and naively triumphant, the sound of kettles of boiling water being poured on ants nests. ‘You Could Ruin My Day’, on the other hand, builds up an almost hypnotic sense of rhythmic determination during its seven minutes, almost making you want to (gasp) dance.
You can practically see people paddling up canals and dozing in shaded park corners on August afternoons as you listen to this album. Or even perhaps staring wistfully from bedroom windows at passing clouds. Just look at the couple on the sleeve, dressed for a balmy autumn day and smiling for all they’re worth. Magic.