Squarepusher pushes the envelope in Damogen Furies

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Eric Novak, Staff Writer

 

Often, electronic artists are criticized for not being able to play an instrument and instead hiding behind their laptops for live shows.

Tom Jenkinson, better known by his stage name, Squarepusher, is unique, because, in addition to producing his own beats and electronic music, he is a virtuoso bass player who often uses his bass in live shows.

On his latest album, Damogen Furies, Squarepusher seems to be focusing more on programmed sounds, showcasing his penchant for vicious, antagonistic beats and melodies that seem to be riding an out-of-control rollercoaster.

In an interview, Squarepusher said that he wants to “explore as forcefully as possible the hallucinatory, the nightmarish and the brutally visceral capacities of electronic music,” and each track was created in one ‘take’ with no edits.

My mind immediately wants to compare this record to some of the more confrontational stuff that fellow electronic artist Aphex Twin has put out. Though one can hear Aphex Twin’s influence in the occasional ghostly synth line, those influences are almost buried underneath Squarepusher’s electronic, almost progressive lines.

There are few moments of respite in this constantly-skittering album, as each track feels very much like a schizophrenic journey through a rave while consuming vast quantities of ecstasy and acid. There are occasionally moments of almost contemplative calm, like on the beginning of “Exjag Nives,” but these moments are shattered almost immediately after they begin.

Listening to this record, it’s easy to get lost in the breakneck speeds of Squarepusher’s destructive beats and furiously-searching melodies. This is not a record to sit down and vibe to. Rather it’s a record that would be more at home being played at a club for people that just want to break stuff.

The synth lines in “Baltang Arg” weave dexterously through the song’s club atmosphere so effortlessly, they put even the most well-rehearsed prog rock bands to shame. Tracks like “Kontejaz” even showcase Squarepusher’s sense of humor, as a very simple melody comes almost out of nowhere in the midst of the track’s backbreaking intensity.

This album is very much like a workout for your ears; listening to it the whole way through is essentially like lifting five hundred pounds at one rep a second for about forty five minutes. This is a very cold album, lacking the almost human qualities of his last record, ironically titled Music For Robots.

Listening through on first listen, there is a lot of emphasis on these mile a minute melodies, and after a while, some of them start to blend together.

The record itself seems to occupy a very monochromatic color palette of sounds, and a lot of the melodies seem to be coming from the same synth patches. So, regardless of the constant intensity throughout the album, I think it could benefit from a little more variety. This is still a fairly enjoyable album and it’s one I’ll definitely put on the stereo whenever I have the intense desire to completely and utterly destroy something.