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Squarepusher - Hello Everything

Squarepusher, Hello Everybody

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

TOM Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, has many friends in high places. The list of people wanting to heap praise upon him is endless and varied, with everyone from Flea of the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Radiohead’s Thom Yorke citing him as one of the most important artists working in music today.

Heck, even Andre 3000 of OutKast has described him as a contemporary equivalent of Kraftwerk and has enquired about the possibility of working with him.

The release of his tenth album, Hello Everything is therefore something to get excited about, particularly if – like Andre and Thom – you value his contribution to the music industry.

Known for his so-called ‘drill ‘n’ bass’ technique, Squarepusher combines everything into his music, from drum ‘n’ bass and techno to ambience and chillout. Occasionally, this combines to achingly beautiful effect – but there are moments on Hello Everybody that wallow in experimentalism to such an extent that they are rendered virtually unlistenable.

Tracks like Vacuum Garden share more in common with film soundtrack music and sound as though Jenkinson is perhaps providing the latest backdrop for a tense scene in Alien or something. It’s an effort that goes nowhere very slowly and which eventually becomes annoying.

Placed in contrast with some of the album’s better material, you have to wonder what he was thinking and who he expects to listen to it. Maybe someone willing to stare at an existential painting for hours, contemplating what it has to say…

At its best, the album follows the jazz-funk direction that was first explored in 2004’s Ultravistor. Tracks like the recent download only Welcome To Europe positively brim with energy, dropping a relentless drill ‘n’ bass beat with some genuinely exciting electronic flourishes – some of which assume an orchestral quality.

While Circlewave 2 unfolds amid some fragile acoustic guitar licks that lend it a soothing, hypnotic quality that’s difficult to resist when in a relaxed kind of place. The guitar does eventually assume a jazzy, bass-heavy quality that works in tandem with the atmospheric electronics in the background.

Theme From Sprite also contains a suitably upbeat foot-shuffling jazzy vibe that’s sadly lacking from other points in the album and which only makes you pine for more of the same.

But then it has always been Jenkinson’s mission to stimulate and challenge the listener, while remaining gleefully clear of conformity. So while some may write off this latest album and mostly dreary and pretentious, others will be inspired by the way in which he can follow a track based around some enchanting classical guitar with one that unfolds amid a sarcastic barrage of noise.

To me, such playful non-comformity is as inspiring as it is frustrating, meaning that Hello Everything emerges as a fascinating but flawed overall experience.

Track listing:

  1. Hello Meow
  2. Theme From Sprite
  3. Bubble Life
  4. Planetarium
  5. Vacuum Garden
  6. Circle Wave 2
  7. Cronecker King
  8. Rotate Electrolyte
  9. Welcome To Europe
  10. Plotinus
  11. Modern Bass Guitar
  12. Orient Orange