mon 15/04/2024

Album: Squarepusher - Dostrotime | reviews, news & interviews

Album: Squarepusher - Dostrotime

Album: Squarepusher - Dostrotime

Chelmsfordian prog-jazz-acid-rave mania showing no signs of dimming

Tom “Squarepusher” Jenkinson has covered a lot of ground over three decades, from dank cellar ambience to refined baroque composition, and from chirpy funk to monstrous noise.

But his default mode is instantly recognisable: 170+ beats per minute jungle / drum’n’bass-adjacent breakbeats, squelching acid techno synths, high drama rave chords, all with him playing jazz fusion bass guitar over the top like a maniac.

And that’s what he does here. OK there are “Arkteon” parts one to three – solo bass pieces which form intro, mid point interlude and outro to the album, that are very much in that baroque composition mode – but other than that it’s pedal to the metal prog-jazz-rave-acid action from top to bottom, and he’s still doing it with absolute aplomb after all this time.

If his Nineties friend and colleague in electronic freneticism Aphex Twin stands above the crowd for his melodic skills, Jenkinson’s distinctiveness lies above all in his chord changes. He really shoves that talent right in your face with track two, “Enbounce”: it’s a proper raise-your-fists-to-heaven sequence, that builds, and builds, and builds, and builds with all the classic Squarepusher elements to the point where you may find yourself very glad you’re not on a strobelit dancefloor for fear your head might burst.

On and on it goes like this, constantly pelting elements into the mix to hyperstimulating effect but never just willy-nilly – always with a fierce compositional discipline. The intensity is that of Seventies Weather Report complexity as inherited by kids via Eighties TV theme tunes, the hyperreal-by-design nature of which in turn primed them for the arrival of techno and jungle. It’s fun, because how could all that stuff not be?

But it’s also exhausting, in the way that eating nine huge, amazing gourmet cakes with only brief breaks for ice cream might be. It builds to a peak with “Domelash” which starts as jump-up drum’n’bass and intensifies from there over six minutes to a full-on sandblasting, before “Heliobat” and the final “Arkteon 3” let you down gently, albeit eerily. Taking this album in in full is strictly, as the rave MCs used to say, for the headstrong – but damn, it’s good to know that Jenkinson is still happily firing this stuff out like galactic battle weapons after all these years.

@joemuggs

Listen to "Wendorlan":

It’s pedal to the metal prog-jazz-rave-acid action from top to bottom, and he’s still doing it with absolute aplomb after all this time

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Average: 4 (1 vote)

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