Squarepusher : Ultravisitor
To say that Squarepusher (aka Tom Jenkinson) makes difficult music rather underestimates the strength of feeling some of his noise-scapes can generate in the unwitting. To come at his music without first erecting some sort of prior foundation of knowledge is likely to cause offence and misunderstanding.
Ultravisitor is suffused with the kind of ultra-fast drum 'n' bass that, were it human, would be locked up in a high security mental ward. This is to be expected. Then there are moments of sheer aural cruelty. Sometimes the pain is pleasure though. 50 Cycles is the sound of a thousand crystals of pure evil oscillating in a very dark place. Steinbolt and District Line 11 are plagues of noise, and An Arched Pathway is the soundtrack of a violent disturbance in a scrap yard. C-Town Smash is just horrible.
Strangely, some of the album sounds like a live recording. There are cheers and applause throughout the CD. But not all is as it seems, as the press release says. It never really interferes, although on C-Town Smash they are frankly suspicious. This is the sound of man showing off with bass guitar and effects processor in attendance. The cheers may be for the indulgent skill of the musician. Rather more likely though they are the wishful thoughts of Jenkinson, keen to acknowledge his own musical skill through a dubbed audience, even though on this one he has clearly over-reached himself.
It is difficult to decide where this album comes from. Overt John McLaughlin-style fusion references sit side-by-side with rapid-fire breakbeats, gorgeous synth textures and lunatic arrangements for off-key frequencies. Is it post acid-house experimental listening music, breakbeat techno, post-bop avant garde, or progressive jazz? At times it is difficult to decide if this album is even listenable. Some of it is arch-crap that will test your patience, while some of it will have you enthralled to the last note.
:: Tom Alford