Squarepusher
Dostrotime


4.0
excellent

Review

by Jalapeno CONTRIBUTOR (30 Reviews)
April 3rd, 2024 | 13 replies


Release Date: 03/01/2024 | Tracklist

Review Summary: How many squares would a squarepusher push if a squarepusher could push squares?

So far, the 2020s has been a nostalgia-rich period for generation X and millennials. From a resurgence of baggy jeans and flannel shirts to the return of classic 90s TV shows, it seems that big business has been utilising retro trends to cash in big. Fuck, even Bernard Matthews managed to revive his infamous and long discontinued “Turkey Twizzlers” due to popular demand from the masses clamouring for a taste of yesteryear. From a musical perspective, the decade so far has borne witness to a myriad of comeback tours, special-edition anniversary re-releases and new albums from countless long-established acts hell-bent on delighting their sentimental fans. Naturally, not all endeavours succeed, but in the case of Warp Records legend Tom Jenkinson a.k.a. Squarepusher and his sixteenth album Dostrotime, great success is achieved by fusing just a touch of vintage Warp with his desire to continually evolve, creating a familiar yet fresh listening experience, encompassing the full spectrum of previous Squarepusher material but with a new structural approach.

Like the majority of Squarepusher releases, Dostrotime, is a well-produced and highly technical affair. On the latter point, its technicality follows suit from 2020s Be Up a Hello, showing more in common with his highly complex earlier material than with the generic EDM soundscapes explored on Damogen Furies and Ufabulum. Squarepusher’s latest also boasts quite the stylistic variety of tracks. Firstly, there are three purely acoustic guitar “Arkteon” pieces which both bookend and dissect the album, acting as a nod to the baroque-influenced “Andrei” from 2004’s ambitious opus Ultravisitor. There are tracks that uplift, and conversely, there are ominous, menacing pieces. Some offerings recall jazzier times, but the biggest highlights of Dostrotime come in the form of IDM/drill ‘n’ bass monstrosities that easily rival the most extreme material Jenkinson has ever penned.

Following the serene opener “Arkteon 1”, Jenkinson immediately launches into a trio of big bangers that focus heavily on the Roland squelch, forming an early album highlight. With “Enbounce”, Jenkinson demonstrates the ultimate lesson in musical swell by producing a track that behaves like a balloon with the ability to withstand an infinite level of inflation, never giving way to the mounting internal pressure. As if this wasn’t enough, the twelve minutes that follow are equivalent to a hammer drill being inserted in each ear, powered up to maximum and churning the contents of your skull to scrambled egg. Lead single “Wendorlan” is an acidic drum ‘n’ bass monster, full of dazzling, frenzied beats and morphing synths with a sufficient degree of intensity to match “Greenways Trajectory” from Jenkinson’s first purely synthetic offering Go Plastic. The alien battle that follows in the form of “Duneray” is almost as fierce and when these tracks are considered as a unit, they may just be the hardest hitting back-to-back pairing of tracks in his discography to date. The boil is reduced to a simmer across Dostromine’s mid-section with the expansive synth backdrop of “Kronmec”, the second movement of “Arkteon” and the vaguely 70s progressive rock influence hinted at by “Holorform”.

If anyone is any doubt that Jenkins’ bass guitar talents don't stack up against his early material, the performance on “Stromcore” will have you eating your words. This is where Dostrotime pays homage to the days of Hard Normal Daddy and Music is Rotted One Note with its mix of high intensity breaks and finger bursting bass wizardry, emulating the feeling of sitting in an artsy coffee shop while a high-grade amphetamine courses through your veins. It forms the album’s second peak along with “Domelash” - another behemoth of otherworldly, vintage IDM, full of deep, brooding synths overlain with pneumatic breakbeats, circular saw screeches and sci-fi laser gun blasts. From here on in, listeners are gradually brought back to Earth with the spacious “Heliobat” and the final “Arkteon” movement.

The real clincher of Dostrotime is its clever pacing and structure. The grouping of tracks in sections provides an almost natural push and pull of a physical journey – equivalent to traversing a mountain range with two severe peaks, separated by a central plateau of relative calm and rounded out with an easy descent. By avoiding the trap of focusing purely on reviving the sounds of the 90s and instead cherry-picking specific elements that best represent those days, Jenkinson has combined career highlights to form a cross-sectional overview of his full discography and produced his best body of work in two decades.



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user ratings (16)
3.7
great


Comments:Add a Comment 
BitterJalapenoJr
Contributing Reviewer
April 3rd 2024


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Site needs more electronic coverage so here goes with review number 30.



Thanks to Squarepusher for an excellent album and thanks to JotW for his invaluable proofreading assistance.

Sunnyvale
Staff Reviewer
April 3rd 2024


5922 Comments


Summary is top-notch, well-played!

jrlikestodance
April 3rd 2024


817 Comments


Thank you for more electronic coverage. Agreed the site needs more for us dancers and nerds!!!

Deez
April 3rd 2024


10330 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Great review



enjoyed this more than his last few

MiloRuggles
Staff Reviewer
April 4th 2024


3034 Comments


Spicy! Guess I'll dive on in then. Bring back bass!

BitterJalapenoJr
Contributing Reviewer
April 4th 2024


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers folks.



Drop back in with your thoughts if you give it a spin.

somnolence
April 5th 2024


446 Comments


Better late than never, glad this got a review

BitterJalapenoJr
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2024


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I would like to have completed it sooner but as you say, late is better than never.

Pikazilla
April 5th 2024


29837 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this smoothly transitions back and forth between silly and fun af and I don't know what to rate it ahaha

Hyperion1001
Emeritus
April 5th 2024


26096 Comments


that’s kind of the squarepusher thing tho

BitterJalapenoJr
Contributing Reviewer
April 5th 2024


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Rate with your heart Pika

dedex
Staff Reviewer
April 8th 2024


12788 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5 | Sound Off

great read Jala, am vibing ahrd with this one so far

BitterJalapenoJr
Contributing Reviewer
April 8th 2024


1032 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thanks dedex and glad to hear it. I'm still having a blast with it.



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