THE THINGS OF SHAPE TO COME
Squarepusher - Do You Know Squarepusher? (Warp)
By Philip Raffaele
"So what, you think your hard do ya? Ya think yr fucking hard do ya? Squarepusher's gonna come and take your fucking face off"
So starts the finest Pusher track I've ever heard. but lets start at the beginning. New Pusher mini-LP, packaged as a 2 CD set, with a special, "Alive in Japan" live disc. For track one, we've got the phenomenal 'Do you know Squarepusher' track that was released as an untitled 12" last winter. Mutated 2-step and distorted vocals, this one is bonifide classic. The plinking keys setting rhythm, the hyper-beats running rampant. Next up is 'F-train', in a similar vein, with vocals and all.
"Axis discrepancy indicates hexagons beyond control anomaly mutilation colony reflects no triangular energy asynchronous matter avoided by a diagram invisibility subtle methods symmetry uncovered a diagonal telemetry."
And it continues like that. The background instrumentation is actually rather subtle, most of the distortions take place of the vocals themselves. Similar to the Funkstorung remix of that Wu Tang track a while back, but obviously, a bit more clinical, and a bit better done. 'Kill robok' is a noisy mother, one of the more abstract tracks on the album.
And now to the filet mignon. Up till now, everything else has been McDonald's hamburger. 'Anstromm-Feck 4' is one of the best electronic tunes I've ever heard in my life. First off its a killer hyper drum and bass track, I can't imagine what the BPM is. But the sickest thing about it is this hot MIDI-like bassline throughout. I can't quite place it, but I'm subconscously thinking of the old Nintendo game 'Prince of Persia'. It breaks down and slows up later on in the track, just making it completely ill. This has replaced 'Cooper's World' as the best Squarepusher track of all time in my mind.
'Conc 2 Symmetriac' is one of the few weaker tracks on the album. Tonal abstraction and experiements abound. At 1:23, its just a random filler. 'Mutilation Colony' is the opus of the album, clocking in at 10:48. It's pretty out there. organ sampling, and that digital stutter step that fades in and out of oblivion. And the outro, you ask? none other than a cover of 'Love will tear us apart', with vocals by Tom himself. And it sounds pretty damn good too. Some might say, if it ain't broke, don't try to fix it, but the track definitely gets a facelift with justice here.
The second disc is OK. Mostly selections from "Go Plastic" from a Japan show, recorded in July 2001. The sound quality isn't so hot, but its a nice show to listen to. Not as intense as his performance at the 100 Club last year, but still exciting enough.
The Pusher himself had this to say about his music. "I aspire to make music useless as a commodity i.e. a prop for the identities and personalites of the mindless; and if this is all that music constitutes in our era, then to maximise every conceiveable parameter until it completely destroys itself." Odd to say, especially considering that this record might be seen as his most 'pop' effort yet. Well, in my eyes at least, even though its less cohesive than "Hard Normal Daddy" or "Feed Me Weird Things". It takes the digital anarchy developed on "Go Plastic", and interpolates Gescom-esque elements of hip-hop into the fold.
I'm curious to see how other people will react to this album. The politics surrounding it, with Jenkinson's obvious disdain for convention, don't seem to merge with the downright poppiness of some tracks. Yet, by intertwining the pop with some of his most abstract work to date, I think that a comfortable balance has been reached, that will sit well with diehard fans, and will introduce new listeners to the joy that is Squarepusher.