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Alternative & Indie - Released April 28, 1997 | Warp Records

Distinctions The Qobuz Ideal Discography
Tom Jenkinson's jazz roots come through louder and clearer on his full-length Warp debut. Although, like the preceding Port Rhombus EP, this album sounds substantially cleaner and more thought out than previous releases for Spymania and Rephlex, it also far surpasses those releases in terms of musicality and track development, not simply relying on the shock value of "tripping-over-myself" drum programming and light-speed fretless bass noodling. Jenkinson's bass accompaniment also sounds far less prog rock-influenced here, making Hard Normal Daddy his overall most listenable work to date. © Sean Cooper /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released May 14, 2012 | Warp Records

Distinctions 5/6 de Magic
Verified electronic music legend Tom Jenkinson has been a pivotal force in his field as Squarepusher since the mid-'90s. Taking constant risks and shifting styles dramatically without batting an eyelash has panned out for him more often than not and has resulted in some of the most definitive moments in the evolution of IDM and electronic music as a whole. It hasn't all been unquestionable genius, though. Ufabulum follows a string of disappointing missteps in the Squarepusher story, namely 2008's fusion-funk meltdown Just a Souvenir; 2009's Solo Electric Bass 1, a collection of unaccompanied bass noodling/soloing; and 2010's half-baked experiment Shobaleader One: d’Demonstrator. Even the best moments of early albums were shelved between multiple phoned-in tracks or clearly less-inspired variations on the same theme. Ufabulum rises out of the muddle of curious decisions on the several albums before it, offering a true-to-form Squarepusher experience more diverse and ornate than almost any before it. Lead track "4001" sets the bar high (as do the first tracks on most Squarepusher albums) with a typically hard beat and bass-stab pattern that abruptly explodes into an army of synths scoring waves of cinematic countermelodies. A post-apocalyptic soundtrack feel runs through much of the album, as tense synth lines are interrupted by glitchy reverb twitches and the occasional dubsteppy bass wobble. "Red in Blue" represents a slight respite, borrowing from the ambient side of David Bowie's Low with its icy, understated electronic paddings. "303 Scopem Hard" incorporates caustic noise and grating bowed metal scraping sounds into its typically breakneck tempo and gurgling acid bassline. The most striking aspect of Ufabulum is the sense that Jenkinson is building on top of foundations he laid himself. Where early Squarepusher records were notable for their innovative work with beat programming or infusion of organic instruments with electronic mayhem, the songs here seem to begin with that template of jittery beats and grow into dense compositions. Glowing mini-symphonies like "Unreal Square" take Jenkinson's signature playfulness and disregard for any musical rules and expand them into complexly layered opuses, mind-numbingly intricate without becoming impenetrable or losing any of their joy. If Ufabulum indicates anything, it's that there might be a deeper sophistication to come from this already groundbreaking superhero of electronic music. © Fred Thomas /TiVo

Electronic - Released January 31, 2020 | Warp Records

A return to craftsmanship for Squarepusher. After using the top of the range of technology, one of the figureheads of Warp Records’ first generation is back using older machines for his new album released by the renowned British label, five years after Damogen Furies. Although vintage material has been trending in the production of electronic material for a few years, Tom Jenkinson manages to generate new ideas from it, evidenced by the experimental sounds of this album. The Brit casts aside his (signature) breaks on the opening Oberlove and Hitsonu, which could both feature on the soundtrack of an 80s video game with their dreamy chiptune synths. The tension kicks up a notch with a big kick à la Prodigy with Neverlevers and the drill’n’bass of Speedcrank, before returning to the calm of Detroit People Mover, an almost ambient track of electronica with poignant layers of synths and drawn out guitars via a minimalist flanger. The origins of Squarepusher are apparent on Terminal Slam, a nervous, metallic, bleepy, industrial track, a real exercise in style before the threatening finale of 80 Ondula. As always, Squarepusher takes no notice of styles or conventions and imposes his very own signature on an album written like a personal diary, the musical equivalent of a beautiful film d’auteur. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released April 10, 2020 | Warp Records

Following the release of his album Be Up A Hello in February after releasing practically no new music for five years, Squarepusher was about to go off on a world tour which would have taken him from Japan to the USA and back for a grand finale in London. Now, the English producer has found the perfect way to console himself and his fans during the pandemic with the release of his EP with the rather gloomy but fitting title, Lamental. But it’s only machine-made sounds crying out on the glorious opening number, The Paris Track, followed smoothly by Detroit People Mover with its synths in the style of Boards Of Canada. After an interlude on acoustic guitar, Tom Jenkinson rounds off this EP with MIDI Sans Frontières, a track that was composed in 2016 in response to the referendum on Brexit and is also featured in an organic version without drums. © Smaël Bouaici/Qobuz

Alternative & Indie - Released April 20, 2015 | Warp Records

Squarepusher is one of electronic music's most widely recognized innovators, with a profile as celebrated as Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards of Canada, or any of his other legendary big-name peers. Though Tom Jenkinson (the mind behind Squarepusher's oeuvre) seemed to arrive with a fully formed signature sound with the icy jungle-informed compositions of his 1996 debut Feed Me Weird Things, he applied his masterful sonic personality to a wide variety of applications as his career moved forward, branching in directions as widely variant as mellow acid jazz, solo funk bass recordings, ambient dub, and even humanly impossible compositional scores played by robots. Damogen Furies finds Jenkinson turning away from his more nuanced or minimally funky material and offering up an album of completely blown-out tones. Nearly everything on the album's eight songs sounds coated in distortion and chaos, though still distinctively Squarepusher at the core. Garbled beats and fuzzy synth tones take the form of highly compositional MIDI-prog on the dizzying "Kontenjaz" and a melodramatic electro-throwback horror movie score on "Baltang Arg." The closest the album comes to pop is a winking mangling of synth pop with opening track "Stor Eiglass," an Aphex Twin-esque slab of IDM that melts into an upbeat melody that sounds borrowed from the Cure and strapped into a getaway car fleeing a bank robbery at 120 mph. This re-appropriation may be a songwriting accident or a knowing move on Jenkinson's part, especially as the song's rhythm deteriorates into madness before coming back together. The album is full of moments that seem designed to confuse, as Jenkinson's flair for healthy doses of nonsense is matched only by his passion for hyperactive musical feats of brilliance. With Damogen Furies, the results of his strange ways lead to moments of slack-jawed befuddlement as much as awestruck astonishment. © Fred Thomas /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released June 25, 2001 | Warp Records

Realizing that another obsessively imitative jazz fusion workout could quickly become a blind alley, Squarepusher's Tom Jenkinson returned to the green fields of drum'n'bass for 2001's Go Plastic, and sounds quite refreshed for having taken the holiday. As one of the track titles ("Go! Spastic") attests, Jenkinson's back to heavy drill'n'bass, the practically undanceable collision of fractured breakbeats and sample-a-second riffs he made popular with his earliest work as Squarepusher. The opener and first single, "My Red Hot Car," is probably the most together production on the album, filtering drill'n'bass through the prism of the stylish British 2-step all the rage in clubland during recent years. (Even though the vocals are filtered and messed with, the risqué, scene-satirical lyrics are still audible, putting the track right in line with twisted, bizarro classics like Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" and "Windowlicker.") Jenkinson quickly moves from the single to "Boneville Occident" and "Go! Spastic," a pair of drill'n'bass knockouts that veer from pointed, endlessly complex breakbeats to downbeat hip-hop at the drop of a hat. He also approaches some sort of nadir for time-stretched drum'n'bass chaos on the seventh track, "Greenways Trajectory" -- the breakbeat carnage is packed together so tightly that, eventually, the entire production is reduced to a series of dog-whistle test tones. It's clear Go Plastic is a work of programmed electronics, with little of the jazz influence or played instruments audible on 1999's Music Is Rotted One Note. Jenkinson uses a lot of classic, sampled breakbeats -- reminiscent of early jungle and hardcore -- and even reprises the original "jump wide!" vocal-sample classic, tweaked separately in both channels at the same time. Toward the end, Jenkinson trades the experimentation for a bit of mood-setting on pieces like "Tommib" and "Plaistow Flex Out," but these are only temporary detours from some serious programming chaos. Any jazzbos left over from his previous work may be in for a rude awakening to the frenetic programming and primitive acid house textures; still, fans of Squarepusher from the beginning will be overjoyed to hear him back doing what he's done best. © John Bush /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released November 20, 2019 | Warp Records


Alternative & Indie - Released April 7, 2014 | Warp Records


Alternative & Indie - Released March 8, 2004 | Warp Records

Squarepusher showed incredible promise during 1999, releasing a third LP (Music Is Rotted One Note) that found intelligent dance music finally assimilating two of its major inspirations -- the easy, careless perfection of programmed electronica and the difficult, experiential notions that characterize live jazz. Ready to embrace him as Miles Davis and Teo Macero in one, a techno savior come to rescue dance from dismissive rock critics, fans instead watched as Tom Jenkinson messily deconstructed that record over the next three years, releasing work that either raided the vaults or became mired in self-absorption. Ultravisitor then comes as a complete surprise. First of all, it's vastly more impressive than anyone could've expected from Squarepusher at this late date. Secondly, it's a trial by fire for adventurous listeners since, on the surface, little appears to have changed from its pitiful predecessor. Instead, the seemingly aimless experimentation of Do You Know Squarepusher is revealed as merely the necessary journey to get to this better place, where Jenkinson's various genres of interest (drum'n'bass, hardcore techno, jazz fusion, musique concrète) and dual compositional techniques (played or programmed) can coexist in harmony, within tracks or next to each other. The opener reconciles all of this in stunning fashion, seamlessly and gracefully proceeding from schizoid drum'n'bass to organ-led ambient jazz, and ending on a wry note with the added live enthusiasm of a crowd that had possibly heard something far different than the listener. (Tellingly, crowd noise reappears throughout this record, blurring the lines between concert and studio.) The third track, "Iambic 9 Poetry," continues in similar fashion, beginning with a skeletal drum solo that gradually gains in complexity and energy while Jenkinson grafts a beautiful chiming melody onto the track. For another piece, a cavernous drum track pounds away as an anonymous vocalist shouts absurd technical jargon -- and it works. That's the magic of Ultravisitor; anything is possible, and everything works within this new framework. Everything works, that is, within the 40-minute mark, because after that Jenkinson continues to hammer away at the listener for 40 more minutes -- a span filled with multiple car wrecks of screaming, distorted breakbeats that occasionally reach a denouement before he climbs back up to the brink to begin yet another plunge into the maelstrom. This obviously doesn't describe the tight, funky fusion of Music Is Rotted One Note. Think of it as Squarepusher's Live-Evil, a complex, fascinating, occasionally bewildering record that no Miles Davis fan would dare prune to a single LP. © John Bush /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released July 21, 1997 | Warp Records


Alternative & Indie - Released October 12, 1998 | Warp Records

The one-man drum'n'bass outfit Squarepusher (aka Tom Jenkinson) treads upon more unpredictable terrain on Music Is Rotted One Note. Although the album still contains elements of his usual drum'n'bass sound, this is by and large a jazz/fusion affair. Jenkinson does a masterful job playing all the instruments live and by himself, and perfectly re-creates the funky atmosphere of such early-'70s Miles Davis classics as Get Up With It and On the Corner. Jenkinson's performances throughout the disc are both flawless and inspired -- he obviously realized that if he were to pay tribute to Miles, nothing but the best would do. Davis' spirit lives on in such tracks as "Don't Go Plastic," "Dust Switch," "137 (Rinse)," and "Theme From Vertical Hold," while "My Sound" perfectly captures the essence of Miles' calming and reflective compositions. But don't be misled; this is not a by-the-numbers rip-off of Miles Davis. Jenkinson updates these familiar sounds with '90s recording techniques and injects enough of his own style into the mix to keep it recognizable. Miles would be proud. © Greg Prato /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released October 27, 2008 | Warp Records

From the fevered imagination of Squarepusher's Tom Jenkinson, Just a Souvenir attempts to soundtrack a vivid dream where Jenkinson experienced a live concert like none other. Surprisingly, the album succeeds despite the dream's inclusion of portions where a river appears on-stage (forcing bandmembers to begin kayaking) and all the drums in the Eskimo's drumkit repeatedly changing places with each other. Obviously, the fact that a piece of art springs from a dream isn't very rare, nor is the fact that dreams are usually surreal, but this tale becomes important because it's a key way to describe the sound of the music -- kinetic, hyperactive, quickly changing from one previously unimaginable piece of music-making to another. Of all artists, Jenkinson continues to have one of the most active musical imaginations (another nod to dreaming). Granted, his ideas wouldn't sound half as astonishing if they were slowed to normal speed, but they'd still sound at least half-crazy. Of the entire Squarepusher discography, Just a Souvenir most resembles Hard Normal Daddy with its hyper-speed drums and bass, sounding more and more like a scattered but fascinating Weather Report with each passing minute. Jenkinson's work on electric bass is as good as it's ever been, and when he puts the bass down, he's reaching for all manner of played or programmed equipment to express his ideas. Still sounding like no other artist on the planet -- whether because of talent or intent -- Squarepusher succeeds again with a radical, challenging piece of music. © John Bush /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released October 18, 2010 | Warp Records


Alternative & Indie - Released October 16, 2006 | Warp Records

3 stars out of 5 -- "The hail of bleeps, acid squelches and drum 'n' bass breaks on 'Plotinus' and 'The Modern Bass Guitar' are dementedly fast....The sheer speed can be exhilarating." © TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released September 30, 2002 | Warp Records

From the total effect, Do You Know Squarepusher (a brief LP or a good-sized mini-LP) doesn't just pose the question in the title, but practically demands compliance with the fact that Tom Jenkinson can't be pigeonholed. After moving from jazz fusion homage to 2-step satirist during previous years, Squarepusher turns in a record of radically different sounds, all of them well-intentioned but also difficult to focus into just a single statement (or two, or three). The title track is the best one here (in his usual vein), as close to a game of the dozens as a drill'n'bass producer is going to get; Jenkinson cues a monotoned vocal to repeat the title before moving into Aphex Twin territory with digital-piano melodies accompanying a series of brilliantly timed breakbeat trainwrecks. "F-Train" cuts up a vocal that sounds like DJ Spooky reading one of his favorite abstract textbooks, while "Mutilation Colony" comprises eight minutes of musique concrète that would sound familiar to any admirer of early tape-music composers Edgard Varèse and Vladimir Ussachevsky. And coming right on its heels is Jenkinson's first cover, a surprisingly straight reading of Joy Division's "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (using multiple overdubs of bass/guitar/drums), with a vocal so understated that Ian Curtis sounds like Ian Astbury in comparison. Though the focus on range and experimentation is fascinating for those who've already heard Squarepusher doing the standard drill'n'bass rigamarole, the randomness evident on productions like "Kill Robok" makes the LP about as infectious as a surgical bandage. If Music Is Rotted One Note was his homage to Bitches Brew, this LP is his "Poème Electronique." © John Bush /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released March 1, 1999 | Warp Records


Alternative & Indie - Released November 8, 1999 | Warp Records

After releasing more than two hours worth of material in less than a year, Tom Jenkinson returned in late 1999 with what looked to be another full LP, comprising 17 tracks and clocking in at 45 minutes. In fact, it's regarded as a "mini-album" and plays the part well. Similar to the 1999 Squarepusher EPs Budakhan Mindphone and Maximum Priest, Selection Sixteen alternates what sounds like outtakes from his last LP (Music Is Rotted One Note) -- that is, short organic fusion cast-offs -- with a set of hard-edged acid tracks, most of which chart the hyperkinetic drum'n'bass programming that fans expect. The album comes off surprisingly well, given both the glut of Squarepusher material in 1999, and the fact that Jenkinson is mixing'n'matching crazed drill'n'bass and more stately jazz-fusion, with little regard for album flow. The highlight here, "Square Rave," takes a little bit from both camps and ends up sounding like Aphex Twin (circa Selected Ambient Works 85-92) if he'd been working with jungle breakbeats. In addition to the 13-track album are four remixes, including one on which Jenkinson recruits his brother Andy for remixing duties. © John Bush /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released July 16, 1999 | Warp Records

Maximum Priest, the second lengthy EP to surface in the year after Music Is Rotted One Note, includes four new tracks that chart the same underwater dub/fusion of Squarepusher's previous EP (Budakhan Mindphone), as well as three intriguing remixes by Autechre and Wagon Christ. © Keith Farley /TiVo

Alternative & Indie - Released November 10, 1997 | Warp Records

Warp Records was playing catch-up with all the excellent Tom Jenkinson material floating around. Just the previous year the label saw good returns on his Hard Normal Daddy LP, and now it was time to buy the rights to previous tracks released on the Brit jungle boutique label Spymania. The selection here on Burningn'n Tree is crunchy and uneven, but certainly rewarding for collectors losing faith in the hunt for original limited vinyl pressings. As a bonus, Jenkinson throws in three previously unreleased selections; decent while they last, though not especially memorable. The real treats are Spymania's early gems. The disc sprints forward with the 1996 track "Central Line," which seems atypically straightforward with its 4/4 drum lines -- lean and underdeveloped by jungle standards (as well as Jenkinson's), but a perfectly energizing opener. It is tracks like this and "Sarcacid" (also known as "The Duke of Harringay") where he leans on his fantastic bass playing and jazz background, rather than his dizzying programming skills that would bloom on future endeavors. One could argue that here was a time when, perhaps due to equipment limitations, he was more on the musician side of the fence; a man who could play live bass at 240 bpm alongside his hyperactive drum machine, as opposed to the disjointed computer-generated brain chop of Go Plastic or the hazy bong water slosh of Budakhan Mindphone. The compilation here shows Squarepusher in his early days of flight, especially the tracks resurrected from his Conumber EP -- the epic 11-minute title track, plus two barely related versions of "Eviscerate," a wonderful balance of organic sounding jazz, atonal machine loops, and fluid bass playing. Jaco would be proud. The album's second to last track is the sloppy dub abandon of "Toast for Hardy," where Squarepusher's echo chamber effects and distorted mumblings add up to something like a bootleg of Peter Tosh babbling in his sleep. "Sarcacid, Pt. 2" brings the LP to a close, and in quite a satisfying way. Shuffling, open-ended hi-hats do leapfrogs over snare rushes and chromium alloy keyboards -- certainly an example of icy electronica that grooves. This pseudo album is the reason he has several others, albeit more diverse than this collection would suggest. You may not find any jaw droppers here, but no doubt listeners will find reasons to enjoy this organic (though less polished) treasure chest. Thank you, Warp. © Glenn Swan /TiVo

Drum & Bass - Released April 1, 1997 | Warp Records

Vic Acid isn't a particularly compelling single release from Squarepusher. The title track is by far the most enjoying moment. "Vic Acid" is three minutes of decent but dated drum'n'bass from a time before Tom Jenkinson built a jazz fixation. "Lone Raver," billed as a phony live mix, is comprised of more straightforward jungle themes, with scrambled, ringing electronic sounds not amounting to much. It sounds like Caustic Window-lite, as Jenkinson seems to pull a page from his friend Richard James (aka Aphex Twin). "Fat Controller" replaces the ringing sounds with a beeping vibe for more of the same. "The Barn" doesn't fare much better, with ringing and beeping replaced by buzzing. It doesn't appear that much thought went into the arrangements on Vic Acid, as the B-sides can't sustain a listener's interest. There's not much of a reason to look into Vic Acid, as it's a rather pale companion to its full-length parent Hard Normal Daddy. © Tim DiGravina /TiVo


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