As Squarepusher, British composer, producer and musician Tom Jenkinson has spent the last quarter century making wonderful music in a variety of styles all under the same guise. From IDM and techno to live instrumentation – including his own solo bass lamentations – the Squarepusher brand is the home of thinking person’s dance-music – a dance music that’s really for the head and heart more than the feet; Aphex Twin’s early drill’n’bass template stretched out to include some of John Carpenter’s movie score motifs and the ideals Daft Punk best posited on their earliest works. Some of the darkness of Orbital, a bit of the pulse of Underworld and just plenty of gorgeous synth weirdness.
Well a bit of all of that is here on this tantalising album-teasing new EP.
We open with The Paris Track which has a whiff of those great b-sides Moby was offering around the Play18-eras; you know they were often better than the album-tracks and main singles; more introspective. Squarepusher’s music has always had that special quality of a brand new world being built, of the song not just transporting you, taking you elsewhere, but building the actual Elsewhere for you and the tune to reside.
Les Mains Dansent is a short repreieve, a 90-second reset led by the nice lick and curl of a guitar riff that uncoils in a very mellow fashion; very bedsit guitar student, just a touch of Bill Frisell to it.
And then we have two versions of the same cut, Midi Sans Frontieres is offered first “avec batterie” and then without. The first (drum) version cuts to the heart quicker, its squelchy synth intro has a better place to go with the propulsion of the vaguely hip-hop groove that slides in underneath.
But it’s a winning piece regardless. And the version that follows, without the drum groove, feels like the world’s longest outro – the mercurial melody lingering longer than perhaps it should, but a cushion for these dark times. Eventually it feels like another piece of Martinez, the side shown in his collaborations and space-sharing with Skrillex on the Spring Breakers soundtrack.
I love keeping an ear out for Squarepusher and this one does not disappoint at all.