SQUAREPUSHER: Solo Electric Bass 1 (Warp Records)


Posted on Aug 10th 2009 10:20 pm

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Squarepusher: Solo Electric Bass 1

Solo Electric Bass 1
Warp Records 2009
12 Tracks. 39mins20secs

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Ever since he first appeared on the electronic scene in the mid nineties, Tom Jenkinson has injected his sound with great big slabs of live electric bass, yet this has, until now, been quite secondary in his work. Indeed, it has, at times, been buried deep down beneath crashing drums and lively acid squelches, while, at others it bubbled just below the surface, injecting healthy doses of jazz in his otherwise manic drill’n’bass. This was perhaps never truer than on his 1998 album Music Has Rotted One Note, on which he favoured for a moment a more acoustic approach, but the bass, Jenkinson’s instrument of predilection, has overall remained somewhat in the background, only gaining more attention in a live context.

Solo Electric Bass 1 is Jenkinson’s first entirely stripped down record. One electric bass, one amp, and nothing else. Recorded live at Cité De La Musique in Paris in 2007, this shows Squarepusher in a light that only a lucky few have experienced. This album is, in many ways, like nothing Jenkinson has ever released. Beautiful, sophisticated, understated and delicate, the music flows freely, smooth and melodic, at times rushing through notes like a lively torrent, at others snaking gracefully through peaceful valleys to create an evocative patchwork tainted with subtle touches of jazz fusion. The range of emotions conveyed by the music is much vaster than on pretty much any of Jenkinson’s previous work, daringly encompassing introversion and poetry in some of the finest moments of this album.

The album features twelve short pieces, grouped in clusters of three or four at a time where Jenkinson moves from one track to the next without break, accentuating the seamless undertone of the music. Each of these clusters contains pastoral moments (S.E.B. 1, 9, 5, 7) wrapped around more energetic and incisive sequences (S.E.B. 4, 8, 12), giving the whole set an interesting balance between introspection and discharges of energy. What transpires all the way through is Jenkinson’s extreme dexterity, but while this relies heavily on technique, he knows better than shoving too much skills in the face to his audience and tempers it with musical expertise. This, and the fact that the album doesn’t quite hit the forty minute mark, contributes to Solo Electric Bass 1 being one of Jenkinson’s most thoroughly enjoyable and thrilling record to date.


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3 Responses to “SQUAREPUSHER: Solo Electric Bass 1 (Warp Records)”

  1. Ashon 13 Aug 2009 at 8:46 am

    Yes, yes and yes again.

  2. […] on his work, which resulted most spectacularly last year with the release of the superb Solo Electric Bass 1 album, which, as its title indicated, stripped his music back down to its most basic component, […]

  3. […] the acoustic tendencies of Hello Everything (2006), which eventually led to the entirely beat-less Solo Electric Bass 1 in 2009, Ufabulum is Jenkinson’s most overtly electronic record to date. Not only that, but […]