David Emery Online

Hi there, I’m David. This is my website. I work in music for Apple. You can find out a bit more about me here. On occasion I’ve been known to write a thing or two. Please drop me a line and say hello. Views mine not my employers.

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Three Drums by Four Tet

10 May 2023

I came to electronic music late, much like I always thought I would with jazz. I could see jazz, hovering there, interesting, beguiling, not quite in view but on the horizon. Inevitable. I would get to it eventually. Electronic music, on the other hand, I dismissed out of hand.

I remember working with an artist when I was early to the music industry—I was going to say fifteen years ago but, sadly, I just checked and it will be twenty years ago next year—and being entranced by the music, but I could not get past the lack of vocals, or the lack of live instrumentation. The latter I find most odd in hindsight, coming from someone who was only in their orbit by virtue of his decades long obsession with ones and zeros. For far too long I was caught up in maintaining how I thought things should be, rather than embracing all of the possibilities of what they could be.

Four Tet, right now, is embracing those possibilities. He has entered his imperial phase—a phrase coined by Neil Tennant from the Pet Shop Boys, who knows a thing or two both about pop culture and electronic music, referring to when an artist is at their commercial and creative peak—which is objectively quite funny for someone that clearly is just having so much fun. From accidently forming a supergroup with Skrillex and Fred again.. to releasing albums by Brian Eno (and Fred again.. again), and ending up accidentally headlining Coachella, Four Tet is somehow everywhere, but in the nicest possible way.

This latest track—another in a long line of standalone singles since his last album proper in 2020—is over 8 minutes long, but the first time I heard it I immediately played it again. The way it builds and flows and ebbs and soars, adding new elements only to take them away and make you long for their return, makes that runtime feel the same as a punchy radio edit, drowning you only to bring you back to the surface. I remember my cocky, righteous, twenty-something self being so sure that electronic music couldn’t bring the same emotion, the same connection, that quote-unquote real music could conjure. I’d like to think that if I’d played him this track, maybe—just maybe—he might have changed his mind.

Listen ➔