Review Summary: Squarepusher displays his ability both as a producer and a musician with a jazzy take on electronic music.
By now, if you listen to a lot of electronic music, you've heard of Squarepusher. What makes Tom Jenkinson so interesting is that not only is he a talented producer, but he also stands out as a daring, experimental musician. No matter what musical style he is emulating or restructuring, he is always doing so with an open mind. This liberal approach to music makes albums like Feed Me Weird Things so stimulating and rewarding. With a variety of influences, such as jazz and drum and bass, Squarepusher compiles an LP shrouded in mystery.
Feed Me Weird Things is conceptually circuitous in that it never subscribes to an individual style. Squarepusher follows a nonlinear path to expose his proclivity for upbeat grooves and jazzy progression. What makes this album work, however, is how smoothly he allows these methods to mesh together. With the exception of a few volatile and surprising moments, like the jarring noise that inaugurates "Dimotane Co.", this album flows gracefully. This is not turgid, overblown dance music. It is intricate, but easygoing at the same time. Nevertheless, Squarepusher's enjoyable blend of drumbeats and sonic effects keep the album from feeling stale and offer plenty of amusing moments.
Furthermore, Jenkinson truly embraces jazz fusion on tracks like "Squarepusher's Theme", "The Swifty", "Windscale 2", and "Kodack". On "Windscale 2", for instance, he implements jazz instrumentation, but he embeds it under abstract electronic textures and shimmering synthesizers that create a compelling atmosphere in which these various components are constantly interacting. One of the key elements of this album is the percussion. The beats are deliciously entertaining and when the drums or drum machines come into contact with Squarepusher's heavy reliance on bass, the music reaches a sense of completion.
One of the record's most satisfying moments comes on my favorite track, "Theme from Ernest Borgnine", in which a rich, awe-inspiring electronic sequence gives way to equally powerful drums. The combination of the elegant digital ambience and the organic beat gives the track an aura of sheer bliss. Squarepusher also takes advantage of the album's quieter moments to deliver periods of respite from the spirited instrumental eruptions. "Goodnight Jade" is a passive, mystifying track with a light filter that makes it feel like a dream state. Squarepusher balances his musical layout to retain the freshness of the album and to sustain the sparkle that shimmers when his numerous influences cooperate.
Where Squarepusher captivates, he also mystifies. Some of the album's most engrossing moments are presented in a sonic enigma. The incredibly dense "Tundra" begins as a haunting ambient track before Squarepusher augments the sound with percussion and effects that lend an infinite depth to the song. The track's complexity adds a layer of charm to the LP as a whole. "U.F.O.'s Over Leytonstone" also builds on the mystery of the album by adopting a darker milieu while still pursuing an even-tempered level of engagement. Squarepusher knows when to be dazzling, but he also knows when to let the listener dissect the music for his or her own personal meaning.
Feed Me Weird Things contains an eclectic array of rhythms and beats that comprise a continuous, relaxed groove. Squarepusher musters his numerous abilities and allows his songs to unfold naturally. Some of his techniques tend to get repetitive, but, for the most part, Feed Me Weird Things has enough buoyancy to maintain a gratifying, consistent listening experience. In the end, Feed Me Weird Things proves one significant fact: Squarepusher has talent.
Theme from Ernest Borgnine
U.F.O.'s Over Leytonstone