Squarepusher is the trading name of Tom Jenkinson, bassist and mate of the Aphex Twin. "Go Plastic" is roughly his umpteenth long player, but the one that has arguably excited the most critical and commercial interest. It contains ten tracks, and roughly half of them possess something that could be categorised as a melody. The single "My Red Hot Car" is a hilarious x-rated Craig David parody/tribute worthy of The Bonzo Dog Band - it doesn't sound like a red hot car that the heavily vocoderised Jenkinson is singing about - but cut from similar cloth to Mr James' legendary excursion into gangster rap, "Windowlicker". "I Wish You Could Talk" is another goodie, having beats that buzz like a trapped wasp and a morbid, foggy church organ riffing deep in the background. "Plaistow Flex Out" is Jenkinson's take on downtempo loungecore, complete with a sleazy MC bidding you "Yeah, mate, welcome to Plaistow flex out". And "Tommib" is a few brief seconds of keyboards, too short to plunge into anything approaching chaos.
But elsewhere, the pusherman goes (experi)mental. There are snatches of utterly insane drum 'n' bass, hectoring Jamaican patois and even, on "Greenways Trajectory", what sounds like a sample of heavy industrial drilling leapfrogging up through the octaves to inaudibility. This fragmentary non-music sounds like the insane scratchings of lab rats, or a stave invasion by an ant farm. If you found "Kid A" veered towards the challenging look away now, because most of "Go Plastic" makes even Radiohead's least linear dabblings sound like Ocean Duller Scene in comparison.
Which, even from me, is not necessarily a recommendation. There's a brilliant EP concealed somewhere within this album, twenty minutes of music that ranks with the finest that even luminaries such as the Aphex Twin have produced, but diluted by the waste products of Jenkinson's crackling, free-range imagination "Go Plastic" is more like the kind of novelty platter that occasionally gets dragged off the shelf to scare visiting friends.
SQUAREPUSHER Music Is Rotted One Note (Warp/Nothing)
Tom Jenkinsons third album, originally released in 1998, is somewhat more revealing of his roots as a jazz bass virtuoso than my only previous long-playing exposure to his work, the ear-syringingly discordant Go Plastic. When opener Chunk-S stops goofing around in the studio it explodes, all too briefly, into a white-hot slab of electro fusion, and Dont Go Plastic heroically attempts a one-man-band recreation of the spiralling chaos and confusion of Miles Davis early electric years. Circular Flexing sounds a bit like Four Tet reeling around an echo chamber, and the intertwining loops of melody powering My Sound mesh like gearwheels. Last Ap Roach signs the album off with what sounds like a distress signal from the end of the world.
But its a thin line between jazz-funk greatness and electronic indulgence, as the timewasting likes of Curve 1 (all blips and squiggles), 137 (Rinse) (free-form clatter) and Drunken Style (random synth flatulence) testify. Music Is Rotted One Note wouldve made a brilliant EP, but even as it trips lazily over its own foibles theres more to chew on than Ive previously heard from the pusherman.