10 of Four Tet’s best collaborations, from Skrillex to Thom Yorke and beyond
Every year is a good year for Four Tet, but 2023 feels like an especially big one, thanks in no small part to his recent work with Skrillex and Fred again… The trio lived together in England last year, and reunited this month in NYC, where they played three surprise B2B2B shows at Good Room, Le Poisson Rouge, and The Lot Times Square leading up to a last-minute and instantly-sold-out night at Madison Square Garden. Four Tet, aka Kieran Hebden, is a London-born electronic musician who started making music at 15 with the band Fridge, releasing his first solo work in 1997 at age 20. Since then, he’s become a pioneering artist in indie electronic music and IDM, with a dozen album releases and scores of production credits under his belt.
Kieran Hebden has also published music under the monikers KH, ⣎⡇ꉺლ༽இ•̛)ྀ◞ ༎ຶ ༽ৣৢ؞ৢ؞ؖ ꉺლ, and 00110100 01010100. He’s been most prolific as Four Tet, though. He keeps Spotify playlists of all of his digitally-available remixes (current count is 94), as well as all of the music he’s published (a 649-song list called “Everything”) and a wild mix of musical inspiration spanning 163 hours, compiled since 2016 (the title is an barely-intelligible string of symbols, emojis, and analog emoticons–you’ll know it when you see it). On top of all that, he’s done a handful of collaborations over the years, from high-profile collabs like his songs with Burial and Thom Yorke and his recent track with Skrillex to more overlooked gems. We’ve put together a list of 10 of his best collaborations. Read on for the list…
“Butterflies” with Skrillex and Starrah
The newest release on this list, “Butterflies” meshes clubby R&B vocals by Starrah with collaborative production by Skrillex and Four Tet (two thirds of the “Pangbourne House Mafia” with Fred again…) that was released as a single in the leadup to Skrillex’s ninth LP Quest For Fire. The beat they create on “Butterflies” is industrial and jumpy, set against a darker-toned choral sample and fast-paced xylophone feature.
“Moth,” “Nova,” and “Wolf Cub” with Burial
Four Tet and Burial first came together for double single “Moth”/”Wolf Cub” in 2009. The tracks came out on 12″ vinyl via Four Tet’s own Text Records imprint. “Moth” is slow-burning, synth-driven ambient house, while “Wolf Cub” drips and clicks with jumpy percussion and keys. The producer power duo came back together in 2011 with Thom Yorke (more on that later), and once more in 2012 with standalone single “Nova,” another entrancing ambient cut.
“Ego”/”Mirror” and “Her Revolution”/”His Rope” with Burial and Thom Yorke
Thom Yorke, Burial, and Four Tet first joined forces in 2011 with 12″ “Ego”/”Mirror,” a double single of thumping, garage-y beats, sparse piano, vibraphone, and violin, and Thom’s characteristically haunting lyrics. More than a decade later, the trio came together again for “Her Revolution”/”His Rope,” the former of which uses piano and a sort of chopped and screwed sitar as the backbone for an eerily calm backdrop to Thom’s falsetto. It closes with buzzy synth and a faraway melody, giving way to “His Rope,” a darker, slower dub track that ends in haunting quiet.
“Calm Down” with Katy B and Floating Points
“Calm Down” appears on Katy B’s 2016 album Honey. The song foregrounds a bubbly bass line before adding layers of synth under Katy’s energetic vocal. It’s a poppier cut, but maintains a dynamic intensity in its production. It’s also worth noting Floating Points and Four Tet regularly performed together in 2022, including several festival appearances and a show with Jamie xx at Forest Hills Stadium.
“Seesaw – Club Version” with Jamie xx and Romy
Speaking of Jamie xx, Four Tet collaborated with him on an expanded club version of “Seesaw” from his 2015 album In Colour. This iteration of the song quiets the already-whispery vocals of Jamie’s xx bandmate Romy; she sounds further away, and ethereal keys and synths crescendo to ultimately overtake the intimate vocal. The resulting track is louder and more engulfing than the original, a more spacey ambient house take on Jamie xx’s restrained style.
“Glassbeadgames” with Martyn
Energetic and punchy, “Glassbeadgames” is a collab between Four Tet and Dutch-born dance musician Martyn appearing on Martyn’s 2014 album The Air Between Words. The track features a retooled sample from Four Tet’s 2012 track “Lion” over an assertive four-on-the-floor beat, keeping the percussion constant as atmospheric synths swell and shift.
“Rhinestone Cowboy (MF DOOM & Four Tet Remix)” with Madvillain
In 2005, a year after Madvillain released their iconic album Madvillainy, Four Tet created an entire album’s worth of remixes. His iteration of “Rhinestone Cowboy” features new vocals from MF DOOM, drawing it closer to an all-new collaboration than a remix. Four Tet’s take is a firm departure from the original–it trades chopped-up orchestral strings for funk guitar and squeaky synth patterns–but maintains the playful intensity that so suits DOOM’s airtight flow.
“Bahdeni Nami” and Wenu Wenu with Omar Souleyman
After rising to international prominence with his Sublime Frequencies releases, Syrian dabke musician Omar Souleyman continued to cross over into the “indie” music world when he collaborated with Four Tet for the entirety of his 2013 album Wenu Wenu. The two musicians approach dance music in entirely different ways, but found the perfect middle ground on this album and their followup collaboration, “Bahdeni Nami,” which doubled as the title track of Omar’s 2015 LP of the same name.
“Natural Skin Deep” (and more) with Neneh Cherry
Four Tet has been instrumental in the return of Neneh Cherry’s return to music, producing both 2014’s Blank Project (her first in nearly two decades) and refining their collaboration with 2018’s sublime Broken Politics. If you’re unfamiliar with the albums, a good starting point would be “Natural Skin Deep,” one of Broken Politics‘ many highlights. It’s a densely textured dance track marrying Neneh’s candid, environmentally-inspired lyrics with Four Tet’s busy, cyclical production. “Buffalo Stance,” her 1988 debut single, announced Cherry as an iconoclast and 30 years on she has remained just as singular.
“Gluetraps” and “Anvil Falling” with Beans
“Gluetraps” and “Anvil Falling” appear as the third and third to last tracks on rapper Beans’ 2011 album End It All. Four Tet contributed to the writing and production of both tracks. “Gluetraps” is a significantly leaner cut for Four Tet, featuring chugging drums and sparse synth pulses–the song is filled out by Beans’ assertive, high-speed verses. “Anvil Falling,” by contrast, clatters with whining, industrial noise, matching Beans’ frenetic energy for all of the song’s 53 seconds.
Coming up this summer, Four Tet has a slew of live appearances. He’ll perform a set at Primavera Sound in Spain, and he’ll join Floating Points, Shabaka Hutchings, and more for a performance of Pharaoh Sanders’ Promises at the Hollywood Bowl. Prior to those shows, he’ll play sets in NYC, L.A., and London with lighting by Squidsoup. All dates below.
Four Tet — 2023 Live Dates
May 3-4 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Palladium
May 9-11 Brooklyn, NY @ Great Hall at Avant Gardner
May 23-24 London, UK @ Alexandra Palace
June 2 Barcelona, ES @ Primavera Sound
June 9 Madrid, ES @ Primavera Sound
September 20 Los Angeles, CA @ Hollywood Bowl