Album number 14 sees Mr Jenkinson stripping down the kit list and ferociously nailing tracks in one take
Apart from last year’s ‘Music For Robots’ EP (an EP of music, as you may have guessed, written for and performed by three robots), all has been quiet from Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, since 2012’s ‘Ufabulum’. That said, three years is no time at all these days; technology has upgraded, but there have been no vaulting new developments in terms of electronic content.
So perhaps it’s of no great historical and cultural consequence that Jenkinson has made an album crammed full of the usual Warp tropes of fast-cut beep ’n’ glitch with a few additional knobs on, one which occupies a space station farther out than most electronica, but nonetheless remains somewhat stationary. It’s a record that satisfies rather than confounds, consolidates rather than expands.
Still, ‘Damogen Furies’ is packed with blistering drama, each of the eight tracks a battle scenario in keeping with a world in which virtual technological strife has become a recreational element that millions are immersed in.
Opener ‘Stor Eiglass’ is arched by a sanguine, air-punching melody that is reminiscent of The Cure in their heyday. It mutates, quickly, as is Squarepusher’s wont, mutant bleeps and shapeshifts giving way to a joyful dance of the dentist’s drills, 1000bpm pneumatic emissions. The ambient, Apollo-like solemnity of ‘Baltang Ort’ is disrupted by a recurring robo-blah-blah utterance, then a jamboree of acid misshapes, increasingly scuffed and distressed. By its end, the track is buried beneath a hundredweight of sculpted shards and wrought detritus.
‘Rayc Fire 2’ is a stuttering series of interference gobbets that persist until you realise they aren’t interventions but the snaking content of the track. The rotating saucers of blips in ‘Kontenjaz’, deliciously funky in provenance, resemble fragments of some old Funkadelic spacecraft or flying Moroder machine. ‘Exjag Nives’ fans out like a synth symphony of yore, before turning nasty and spitting bullets.
‘Baltang Arg’ is Squarepusher at his most relentless and obstreperous – imagine coming under attack from some monstrous, multi-headed cyber-Rick Wakeman sent in a reverse Terminator action from the 70s to destroy mankind. You can’t dance to it, merely dodge its rapid, indiscriminate fire from all angles. An army of Space Invaders joins the assault, culminating in a final repetitive stab of keyboard as if stomping on humanity’s grave. Next up is ‘Kwang Bass’, whose hyper-metabolic, voracious acid squiggles are flanked by the mournful motions of a cosmos and distant explosions. Suddenly the violence becomes foreground as giant robotic limbs crush stationary cars and cinematic carnage ensues, from which not even Will Smith can save us.
Finally, ‘D Frozent Aac’ features a fleet of heavy bombers droning and hoving waywardly into view, looking winged, only to issue a final formidable broadside of laser fire as anti-aircraft units are reduced to craters. From the chaos, however, arise mauve plumes of rare beauty.
All in all then, another day in the Squarepusher office. Nonetheless, this is an exhilarating, pulverising experience which places Squarepusher light years ahead of the pack and makes his contemporaries feel lethargic by comparison.