Kieran Hebden and Steve Reid | DNO139
Tongues is the new record from Kieran Hebden (AKA Four Tet) and jazz percussionist Steve Reid (Sun Ra, Miles Davis, James Brown), and as you'd expect from two musicians so addicted to fresh sounds, it finds them speaking a whole new language after their earlier collaborations.
You could never mistake Tongues for Volume 3 of the duo's acclaimed Exchange Sessions, even if they were produced with a similar aesthetic in mind. Like those encounters, Tongues features no overdubs or edits, just the unfiltered sound of two minds engaging in musical dialogue. The kaleidoscopic effects of Steve's drumming and Kieran's electronic chops and change-ups are all carved out and created in real time. But things have changed. The Exchange Sessions were documents of a specific moment, when Kieran and Steve first explored the possibilities of their improvisational partnership. The takes were long and loose as the two musicians tested the creative waters.
Tongues is more explosive. A series of shorter tracks, it's an altogether more focussed and even melodic blast. And it's been influenced by the heavy round of touring the duo have undertaken since those first encounters. "We've been playing all kinds of mad different shows, from drum'n'bass nights in Italy to the Green Man festival in Brecon," explains Kieran, "so the crowds have been really unpredictable. You get old jazz heads coming out to see Steve and dance kids too."