Living in the shadows of well acclaimed electronica artists such as Venetian Snares and Aphex Twin it’s easy to forget Tom Jenkinson, also known as Squarepusher. It’s safe to say that Jenkinson isn’t as crazy as the two psychotics listed above but he’s able makes up for it with his own unique take on IDM. Instead of constantly cramming clicks and bleeps into his songs he adds funk laiden guitar riffs, cheery keyboard sounds, and a heavy dose of danceable breakbeats. It’s easy to compare Squarepusher to Aphex Twin or Venetian Snares because all of these artists have an extremely “beat” oriented sound however Jenkinsons music possesses a much more subdued and chilled out atmosphere.
Hard Normal Daddy
encompasses a spacey, video-game type of sound. The opening track “Coopers World”
is entirely composed of swift beats, jumpy keyboard grooves and Funkadelic-esque guitar lines. This type of sound is prominent throughout the whole album, the following track ”Beep Street”
makes the listener feel as if he’s riding on a hot air balloon in outer space. The mixture of smooth beats and goofy sound effects fuse together to make an upbeat and cheery sound. This is the theme throughout the majority of the album,. Jenkinson lays out warped, psychedelic keyboard/guitar sounds and then adds smooth yet quick paced beats over it. In result Squarepusher is able to reach an uncommon sound where his music is sublime yet compelling at the same time.
The main problem with Hard Normal Daddy
is when Jenkinson tries to aim for a more harsh, beat savvy sound. ”Chin Hippy”
is a prime example as it is only made up of spazzy, inconsistent beats with absolutely no keyboard or guitar effects. While it sounds like it was produced by DJ Shadow on crack ”Chin Hippy”
is a complete mess without any redeeming qualities. The same can be said for ”Vic Acid”
and ”Anirog D9"
, instead of doing what he does best Jenkinson creates songs entirely composed of beats and in result it just sound like a complete cluster***.
In the end Hard Normal Daddy
is wicked mixture of spacey keyboards and laid-back beats. When he’s on his game Jenkinson can create the most bizarre, trippy atmospheres with fleeting synthesizer tones and bluesy guitar riffs. Countless electronic acts fail as they try to cram in several clicks and beats into one song, Jenkinson falls victim to this on a couple of tracks but makes up for it with his innovative “UFO’s flying through outer-space” type of sound.