Story: Jack Foley
ALTHOUGH he hasn't released a full album since 2001's Go Plastic,
28-year-old Tom 'Squarepusher' Jenkinson has had a massive last
A 2003 US summer tour sold out on the strength of word of mouth,
followed by a similarly frenzied UK week of shows.
The Neptunes nominated his 2002 live album (with bonus EP),
Do You Know Squarepusher, for the Shortlist Prize (the
US equivalent of the Mercury Prize).
Sofia Coppola selected his music for the soundtrack of her film,
Lost In Translation.
Seminal video director, Chris Cunningham (whose work has recently
been compiled on a DVD retrospective in conjunction with Spike
Jonze and Michel Gondry), has been painstakingly working on a
film based around Squarepusher's music.
Radiohead's Thom Yorke will tell anyone within earshot how much
he admires the Pusher man's sound, and Outkast's Andre 3000 cannot
stop talking about him.
"Squarepusher's the shit," Andre told Q magazine. "I
like anything by Squarepusher - I never heard anything remotely
like that stuff and I love him," he added in Word magazine.
"It's coming from so far out that you can't even imagine
what he's thinking. There are two people who really humble me
and blow my mind, and it's him and Aphex Twin - get Feed Me Weird
Things by Squarepusher. I wish I could make an album that sounds
like those guys..."
Suffice to say, Squarepusher's ninth album, Ultravisitor,
has just upped the ante.
He's been raising the bar since his first tracks made as a teenager
for the Spymania label, perpetually on mission to capture delirious
energy and uninhibited passion in sounds like you'd never heard
The classic debut, Feed Me Weird Things, on RePHLEX, in
1996, paved the way for defining the sound of the drum 'n' bass
dancefloor, drawing on acid, neural funk, the physical intensity
of hardcore rave and breakbeat, his love of jazz drummers, a flirtation
with two-step garage on the underground hit 'My Red Hot Car'
and a tender side that showed in his stunning ability with
melody - not to mention a heartwrenchinly faithful cover of Joy
Division's 'Love Will Tear Us Apart'.
In December 2003, Darren Johnston, an acclaimed British choreographer,
video artist and sound designer, performed a new piece at London's
South Bank Centre to a soundtrack of unreleased Squarepusher music.
Inimitable in his quest to map new borders of sound and feel,
with Ultravisitor, Tom Jenkinson has just delivered the album
of his life that will have even his peers wondering where to turn
Completely unaware of the storm of critical opinion gathering
pace in his wake, Tom Jenkinson has been closeted in his suburban
Chelmsford house like the true eccentric maverick that he is,
making extraordinary music and wrestling with ideas.
From his perspective, his challenge is to find the point of tension
between his two loves - his all-time passion, playing bass and
the drums - alongside the satisfying mental absorption he finds
in programming and sequencing on a computer. To hold these two
divergent ideas in his mind at the same time, and imagine music
that redefines emotional intensity and explodes restrictive genre
boundaries of musical language - welcome to the odyssey that is
Previewed at this Summer's UK and US shows, The Times were overwhelmed
by "an extraordinary racket" 4/5.
"This is what would happen if George Clinton swapped his
Mothership for the Death Star," added Playlouder.
But that's one aspect of Ultravisitor. Even the legion of dedicated
Squarepusher fans, not to mention the uninitiated, will be bowled
over by the powerful shift in melodic development, Squarepusher's
mastery of dynamics and the way the album transports the listener
to a whole new dimension.
An exclusive download of a non-album track, Squarewindow,
has been available since January's launch of Warp's MP3 download
Squarepusher will feature as part of a Contemporary Music Network
live tour in March together with the London Sinfonietta, with
whom he has been collaborating in an historic meeting of traditional
and contemporary musical ideas.
A continuation of the Warp Works and 20th Century Masters event
that debuted at the 2003 Ether Festival, this year Squarepusher
and Jamie Lidell will tour with the Sinfonietta for five UK dates,
their music heard alongside the Sinfonietta's performance of works
by pioneering classical composers Reich, Cage, Antheil, Varèse
as well as three new pieces by Aphex Twin.
Praised as 'a brilliantly conceived concert' by New York Times,
the 2004 event promises to be spectacular. Squarepusher then heads
to US in April for his own shows.
London Sinfonietta, Squarepusher and Jamie Lidelll, in association
with the South Bank Centre and Contemporary Music Network perform
Antheil, Aphex Twin, Cage, Lidell, Reich, Squarepusher, Varèse:
March 12 - Ether Festival, RFH London
March 13 - Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
March 16 - Anvil, Basingstoke
March 26 - Dome, Brighton
March 27 - Royal Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
NB Follow the links on the right-hand column to join the track
by track album listening party...