Four Tet’s “Dreamer”: Proper, Refined House Music from a UK Pioneer

Listen to Dreamer on BandCamp or the YouTube link below.

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Ever since his 2012 full length Pink, Four Tet has seemed rather content in his new role as house music forerunner - most of his tunes since then have been his own idiosyncratic interpretations of one of dance music’s hoariest tropes.

Musically, his sonic signature is still intact, as befits any great artist, so his standard electronic interpretations of organic, thoughtfully curated soundscapes fit well into a house landscape typically well populated by thick, techy basses and typical four-to-the-floor beats.

Four Tet playing live

Four Tet playing live

There’s obviously nothing wrong with big bass club fare, but artists like Four Tet are critical for pushing genres forward, especially an easily aped and highly established genre like house. Back in the day, his hip hop tempos, sample collages, and left field track names indicated a producer experimenting with headphone fare rather than communal, dancefloor ecstasy. Those songs and albums remain pivotal today, but as he has come out of his shell musically speaking, he seems to have discovered some appeal to the power of properly danceable music. 

The vestiges of his early career remain as tastefully sampled real world elements like strings and bells, complemented by precise and ear-prickling synthesized elements. His newest single, Dreamer, is a tease of all of those elements at a brisk 130 beats per minute. Close repeated listens discover layers upon layers of pleasant tones and birdcalls beneath the unpredictable arpeggiated synths and warmly rotating bell chord progression. 

You won’t find wobbly bass or static-filled builds and drops here, but if you are for precisely engineered and humanistic house music for the refined set, this is the track for you. The elements catch up to the listener like a pleasant dream half remembered, where long drawn out mid range tones and echoing raindrop blips are easily missed at first. With careful ears, it becomes evident that this tune is not a drag and drop, copy paste affair, but rather an organic exploration of sounds that are arbitrary as they are appropriate and human.