Four Tet & William Tyler’s “Darkness, Darkness,” A Seamless Collab Between Ostensibly Opposite Artists

Will Schube returns with another track review to dive into the brilliant new 10-minute track from Four Tet, an electronic music legend and William Tyler, an acoustic folk artist.
By    May 26, 2023

Image via William Tyler/Instagram

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Will Schube still can’t believe Larry David got Salman Rushdie to say ‘fatwa sex’ on Curb Your Enthusiasm.

After partially occupying the EDM hinterlands at Coachella during b2b sets with Fred again.. and Skrillex, Four Tet has returned with a track created with cosmic country guitar god William Tyler. It’s hard to approximate an 180-degree shift more drastic than this, but the producer born Kieran Hebden’s brilliance lies in his ability to bring vastly disparate musical worlds into his orbit. Hebden is widely regarded as having some of the most eclectic and interesting taste in the world of electronic producers, so his link up with the former Silver Jews and Lambchop guitarist isn’t as outré as it appears on its face. The results confirm that this is indeed a perfect fit–despite how different their approaches are.

The 10 minute cut out now on Psychic Hotline is a smoldering piece of Darkside-inspired psychedelic squall paired with one of those Verve Remixed Series compilations that are impossible to dislike. You know the one I’m talking about, the collection that fooled people into thinking Diplo was talented instead of very fortunate that he was tasked with remixing a Marlena Shaw classic. So that’s where we’re at: Grab some brooding freak-pop, dusty 70s soul, plus the general aura of jam band heady vibrations, and you’ve got something that approximates Hebden and Tyler’s “Darkness Darkness.”

Like I mentioned above, it’s kind of shocking how easily these two almost exactly opposed musicians sync to each other’s styles. Electronic vs. acoustic, improvisational vs. deeply structured, etc. The puzzle pieces fit and there ain’t any missing, either.

The hypnotic guitar chords from Tyler glide across the terrain like a car on cruise control eight hours into a days-long road trip. Sampled voices fade in and out like the radio in that same car losing signal every few seconds. Slowly, that “California Soul”-inspired horn line swaggers onto stage alongside a double-bass line that sounds plucked from a ’70s Mingus cut. The moment the drums kick all the way in is the moment I absolutely demand that these two make an album together. “Attica!,” I yell outside of the Psychic Hotline office. No one can hear me, of course, because the only thing worth hearing is “Darkness Darkness” itself.

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