SQUAREPUSHER: Just A Souvenir (Warp Records)


Posted on Oct 28th 2008 01:15 am

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Squarepusher: Just A Souvenir

Just A Souvenir
Warp Records 2008
14 Tracks. 44mins24secs

The godfather of drill’n’bass is back once more, with his twelfth album, Just A Souvenir. Since he first appeared, in the mid nineties, with a series of EPs for Spymania, amongst others, and his debut album, Feed Me Weird Things, released on Richard D. James’s Rephlex, Tom Jenkinson has continuously remained close to his manic junglistic roots while exploring a variety of sonic spaces, at times digging toward funkier or more rave-infused sources, and at others sticking to jazzier and more improvised forms. His last album however, Hello Everything, published over two years ago, denoted quite a change of tone, with the melody becoming much more of a fundamental element of the compositions.

Just A Souvenir is said to have been inspired by a dream Jenkinson had earlier this year about a rock band playing an ‘ultra-gig’, whatever that is. The album was then recorded in just two weeks, and sees Jenkinson injecting a big dollop of psychedelic rock and eighties electro into his usual jazz-infused electronica. This perhaps explains the impression of urgency that emanates from some of the pieces here. Unlike its predecessor, Just A Souvenir is quite an abrasive record, rendered even more so by the widespread use of saturated guitar sounds and angular melodies.

The album kicks off with the engaging Star Time 2 and The Coathanger, which steer this album towards jazz-funk territories for a moment, before taking a turn to more awkward ground past the rather lovely acoustic tones of Open Society. On A Real Woman, Jenkinson mixes rather tired vocoded lyrics, flimsy fuzz guitars and rhythmic forms that may borrow from earlier Pusher record an element of speed, but fail to truly dig any particular groove. This is the case on the rather awful and seemingly pointless Delta-V, Planet Gear or The Glass Road, where Jenkinson throws all his energy in rock pieces that lack the energy of the real thing or the tongue-in-cheek approach of parodies. This is very much the case with every track he decides to apply the process to. The Glass Road actually shows some momentary glimpses of brilliance, but they get overshadowed by the lack of subtlety shown.

Thankfully, these remain a minority, and are balanced by rather superb acoustic pieces. Tracks such as Aqueduct or closing piece Yes – Sequitur demonstrate Jenkinson’s ability to weave some pretty smooth and delicate music. Elsewhere, he injects some chunky morsels of jazz, especially on Potential Govaner and Duotone Moonbeam, while Fluxgate feeds on gentle electro-acoustic textures.

While his previous record appeared to refuelled the Squarepusher machine and inject some fresh flavours, Just A Souvenir at times seems to run around in circles and fails to completely convince, but when Jenkinson drives himself away from the pseudo psyche rock that pollutes this record, there are hints of a much more colourful and delicate Squarepusher, and one that would deserve to be explored in much more depths.


Squarepusher | Warp Records
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One Response to “SQUAREPUSHER: Just A Souvenir (Warp Records)”

  1. […] with the prospect of bringing the fictitious band he had dreamt about, which subsequently led to Just A Souvenir two years ago, to life. As preposterous as the idea was for the notoriously lone ranger Jenkinson,, […]