SQUAREPUSHER: Ufabulum (Warp Records)


Posted on May 9th 2012 01:43 am

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Squarepusher: Ufabulum

Warp Records 2012
10 Tracks. 51mins20secs

Amazon UK: CD | CD LTD | LP US: CD | CD LTD | LP Boomkat: CD | CD LTD | LP iTunes: DLD

In the sixteen years that separate Squarepusher’s debut to his latest delivery, Tom Jenkinson’s music has mostly been fueled by strong fusion jazz currents and massive rave effusions, but whilst these two poles have cohabited, his albums have for the most part been under the dominance of one or the other, never quite the two in equal measures. With its heavy synths lines and playful keyboard washes, Ufabulum clearly belongs to the latter category. Following an excursion as lead-member of Shobaleader One, an enigmatic formation which delivered the somehow crowd-divisive d’Demonstrator two years ago, Jenkinson is back as Squarepusher, and it would appear that his little escapade has done him a world of good.

After 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 whilst his trademark drill’n’bass is back in action, it is to back up some of his most melodic moments yet. Indeed, if melodies had, until now, taken a bit of a back step in his work, only manifesting themselves sporadically (Fat Controller on Hard Normal Daddy, My Sound on Music Has Rotted One Note, Tomorrow World on Selection Sixteen, Welcome To Europe on Hello Everything), here, they are part and parcel of the overall structure of this record. And after the over-indulgent electro of d’Demonstrator, Jenkinson lines up some pretty straightforward pieces here. The lush keyboard motifs on 4001, Energy Wizard, Dark Steering or Ecstatic Shock bring out the hypnotic nature of Jenkinson’s music to the fore, but elsewhere, his playful approach remains pretty much intact. Stadium Ice kicks off as a gentle funk/jazz piece, but it soon turns into a fidgety piece. Later on, Jenkinson turns a strange sci-fi moment into a hectic bunch on The Metallurgist, whilst 303 Scopem Hard is typical hyperactive Pusher, albeit in a somewhat much grittier electronic form than usual.

There are however also some much calmer moments amongst all this bravado. On Drax 2, Jenkinson partly reigns the frantic drum machines in to display a series of miniature sequences which takes the piece from its rather dry opening to a lush middle section through to an intense electro shock end section. On Red In Blue earlier though, Jenkinson strips the piece of pretty much everything, leaving just a hefty slab of warm dreamy electronic synthesis.

Initially, Ufabulum can feel a tad too easy on the ear compared to some of Tom Jenkinson’s previous outputs, but it soon becomes clear that this natural ease, whilst making this one of his most accessible records, denotes a level of maturity which he has until now rarely shown. This is not to say that Jenkinson has abandoned his irreverent friskiness in any way, but he unleashes it in much more concentrated form, between which he creates some of his most convincing moments to date.


Squarepusher | Warp Records
Amazon UK: CD | CD LTD | LP US: CD | CD LTD | LP Boomkat: CD | CD LTD | LP iTunes: DLD

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