The Bongo Club, Edinburgh, Sun Mar 14 2010
Things have gone well for Mr Tet (aka Kieran Hebden) this decade. Having started out as an acoustic guitar-loving ‘folktronica’ talent, he’s progressed through mix albums and collaborations to end up somewhere more grounded on latest album, There Is Love In You; a progressive, drawn-out meander through deep house beats and vocal samples that takes a satisfyingly back-to-basics dance approach.
As such, the golden boy of British electronica has no trouble pulling in punters, and this kill-for-a-ticket event at The Bongo Club was packed out with devotees. The nuanced techno of Pantha Du Prince was the added draw, yet the Rough Trade and Dial label artist made little impact on the night. He seemed disconnected from the (admittedly lovely) music throughout a short set spent fiddling with knobs to almost imperceptible effect.
It takes something special to create an electronic show where, above the baffling array of blinking equipment laid out on stage, there’s a real sense of innovation and individuality rising through the music. And this is what Hebden achieved. Concentrating mostly on expanding the There Is Love In You tracks, his impeccable beats rose and fell, cut through each other, warped and bleeped in constantly developing variations for a good hour-and-a-half of superb adventuring. The throbbing insistency of ‘Love Cry’ tipped the swaying audience over the edge into full euphoria as the huge beat and pastiched 90s vocal sample dropped into the small venue. A little trip back to second album Rounds via his finishing coda of ‘Spirit Fingers’ was a welcome reminder of former, more organic-sounding brilliance, but the rest of the set felt like a woozy clubber’s beautiful dream of endless, overlapping great nights out, summing up the influences and vision of someone who deeply loves his dance. It was majestic stuff; much more than a man in a t-shirt behind a computer, and enough to leave the enchanted crowd calling after Hebden for more.