Squarepusher Do You Know Squarepusher Review

BBC Review

The latest from Warp star and king of demented drum 'n' bass Tom Jenkinson - what will...

Peter Marsh 2002

Tom Jenkinson's nom de plume is an apt one; whether mashing up drum 'n' bass into hyperspeed mindwarps, infecting two step garage with digital viruses or jazzing it up with his fretless bass, his music pushes the envelope pretty hard. Beats are squeezed, twisted, mutated and accelerated to the max;in Spinal Tap style, everything seems seemsset set permanently at 11.

Last year's Go Plastic saw Squarepusher back in fully electronic mode, leaving behind the industrialist cyberjazz moves of Music is Rotted One Note. This new album follows much the same path, though the release of the title track as a single a couple of months ago had critics rummaging through their dictionaries for adequate superlatives. Over distressed, scratchy beats Jenkinson knits a patchwork of glutinous synth stabs, processed voice and sudden noisestorms with an assurance that recalls his best work (Big Loada, Port Rhombus), but it's not really the leap in the dark we've been led to expect.

Neither is "F-Train", which recycles the usual stop start beats with doomy sci-fi babble narration. It's difficult to tell whether Tom's tongue is in his cheek or in our ears. The same goes for "Anstromm-Feck 4", which opens with a challenge; "so you think you're hard do you?..Squarepusher's gonna take your f***ing face off". I'm afraidTom's usualdrum 'n' bass accelerated to spin cycle speed trick left your humble reviewer's face still attached to the front of his head. Whereas "Come on My Selector" can still induce sensory overload, this merely irritates.

Things take an upturn with the 10 minute "Mutilation Colony";gorgeous blurred organ chords build till overtaken by a bout of bleak electronics, punctuated by seismic pulses and ending up as an electroacoustic exploration of the properties of cymbals. It's music charged with possibilities; rigorous yet posessing a sensuality Jenkinson seems at pains to avoid elsewhere.

The album ends with a faithful (yet pointless)rendition of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear us Apart", while the CD comes with a bonus, near bootlegquality recording of the Pusher live in Tokyo. Both are probably for completists only. One of Jenkinson's avowed aims is for his music to resist commodification; an admirably punkish attitude, and one that makes a lot of sense, but in much of this album, there's a sense of stasis lurking behind the attitude. Music that's easy to admire, but hard to love.

Like This? Try These:
Squarepusher - Go Plastic
Autechre - Gantz_Graf
Martin Horntveth - Fast Motion

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