Kieran Hebden blurs the lines between the units of his notoriously slippery output once again by releasing another LP as 00110100 01010100 (that’s ‘4T’ in binary code), the first since 2013’s 0181. The surprise drop of his last album under the moniker, a collection of unreleased material produced by Hebden between 1997 and 2001, showcased the cheekier sensibilities of an artist willing to share the workings of his halcyon days, well before he came to dominate the global stage of electronic music as Four Tet. 871 — by our estimate, the only other 00110100 01010100 album to date — follows suit.
While the where, why and how of 871 will surely remain a mystery, there’s a playful curiosity to be felt in these numerically-titled tracks, and from the opening free-wheeling guitar screeches of ‘0000 871 001’, any listener knows that they’re not in for a conventional Four Tet outing. Sounding like the pristine finish of his recent New Energy and Sixteen Oceans albums nestled in warm tape hiss and driven by a musical mind determined to find the sticking points between form and obscurity, 871 careens wildly from folk guitar noodling to lo-fi electronica mood pieces and beyond into something that doesn’t sound dissimilar to Merzbow’s archeological digs for rhythm in pure chaos.
One for the heads and newbies alike, Kieran Hebden finds new musical (and extra-musical) mileage for his long-dormant 00110100 01010100 project.