Songs We Love: Percussions, 'Digital Arpeggios'

Four Tet, a.k.a. Kieran Hebden. (Courtesy of the artist)
Four Tet, a.k.a. Kieran Hebden. (Courtesy of the artist)

This is the song Four Tet fans have been waiting for. Almost five months after he premiered it on his BBC Essential Mix, Kieran Hebden officially released "Digital Arpeggios" on Friday via his Percussions alias.

Don't let the dry pseudonym or title fool you: Like Pachelbel's Canon, "Digital Arpeggios" may be an exercise in music fundamentals, but the effect is extraordinary. (Also, this isn't the first time Hebden has given an anticipated song a mundane name.) The entire production, with the exception of the drum machines, is constructed of interwoven arpeggios that use simple chord progressions to churn in place for 9 minutes without ever wearing out their welcome.

The term "arpeggio" comes from the Italian word for playing a harp, and you can imagine Hebden doing just that on the song's central loop. There's more to it than catgut, of course. The lilting heartstrings of "Digital Arpeggios" draw equally from the autoharp, mbira and Pong soundboard, just foreign enough to confound, yet familiar enough to comfort.

So, why drop it now? Hebden tweeted this out a few hours after dropping the track...but we wouldn't take it too seriously:

Copyright 2015 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright NPR. View this article on