Even in the aberrant world of electronic music, Squarepusher is something of an anomaly. A technically brilliant, virtuoso bass player and an emotive multi-instrumentalist; a melder of organic, live playing and synthetic, programmed sounds; an artist still prolific ten years on from the demise of drillíníbass, the style he canonized; a conduit channelling any number of genres, past and present. Widely regarded as the quintessential eccentric, interview-shy Tom 'Squarepusher' Jenkinson (1975) catches his audience off guard with every production, reinventing his method and madness with each of the thirteen albums heís released in as many years.
Jenkinson became a drillíníbass heavyweight at just twenty after plugging into the post acid, post rave aesthetic of the mid-90s UK. As a teenager in Chelmsford, heart of London's commuter belt, Jenkinson organised nights at the local football club, playing bass while Hardy Finn spun records that ran the gamut of old funk, breaks, Detroit, acid, jingles and TV themes. Jenkinson released two hard-core acid EPs under the radar in Ď94 before his first as Squarepusher Ė Conumber E:P
Ė was released on the label he co-founded with Finn, Spymania, in Ď95. Conumber E:P
is now considered to have been the advance guard of drillíníbass along with two other releases that appeared around the same time: Aphex Twinís Hangable Auto Bulb
, and Plugís (Luke Vibert) Plug 1 - Visible Crater Funk
, each a variant of contorted, breakbeat jungle that relied heavily on obsessively precise, detailed programming and sampling.
Full-length releases from each of the artists the following year ensured drill'n'bass achieved critical mass, most notably Plug's Drum'n'bass for Papa
and Squarepusher's debut Feed Me Weird Things
, released on Richard D. 'Aphex Twin' Jamesí Rephlex label. Jenkinsonís influential Feed Me Weird Things
combined the frantically complex drum sequencing, warm analogue melodies and brittle abstract ambience that defined drillíníbass. The album was especially notable for the enduring 'Tundra'.
Jenkinsonís second full-length Hard Normal Daddy
came out on Warp in 1997. Chasing ever more complexity in rhythm, Jenkinsonís early albums confounded both drum'n'bass and jungle fans with hyper-speed breakbeats and melodic, fusion style fretless slap-bass that drew parallels with Jaco Pastorius. Constructed using Roland tape sync, Hard Normal Daddy
was a richly layered tapestry of Jenkinsonís own playing. It featured imagery and samples that referenced eight-bit video games and the British rave scene.
(Warp) followed in Ď97 and heralded a shift in Jenkinsonís approach toward a more overt exploration of live sound. According to Jenkinson, the album was recorded live to DAT using only a Boss DR660 drum machine, an Akai S950 sampler and Roland SH101 synthesizer. Squarepusherís next and most critically acclaimed album, Music is Rotted One Note
, represented material recorded using only live instrumentation and without sequencers. The Squarepusher style had moved away from breaks as drill'n'bass receded into the deep underground, embracing virtuoso instrumental jazz-fusion.
The next major Squarepusher milestone came in 2001 with the release of Go Plastic. The album signalled an exploration of synthetic processing that Jenkinson pursued for the next several years, and contained the biggest 'hits' of his career to date, 'My Red Hot Car' and 'Tommib' which was famously featured in the film Lost in Translation. While Go Plastic was made with programmed DSP algorithms and midi, it wasnít until 2002ís Do you know Squarepusher that Jenkinson released an album made on a PC. On 2006ís Hello Everything, Jenkinsonís slap-bass featured prominently again, and was hailed by fans of his late 90ís releases as a return to form. His 2008 album Just a Souvenir is a prog rock influenced concept album with spacey effects familiar from 90s warp, folky guitar, funky bass and wildly indulgent displays of virtuosity of the type favoured by metal bands. Along with the Duke of Harringway, another early Jenkinson moniker was Chaos A.D., presumably in honour of the definitive Sepultura album of the same name.
> 2008 > CTM presents SQUAREPUSHER