Review of Ufabulum Album by SquarePusher

It feels a bit crass - probably because it is - to label Tom Jenkinson (he of the SquarePusher moniker) as a scene granddaddy, particularly when you consider that it's hard to define exactly what that scene might be. This is mostly because the sixteen years since his début album Feed Me Weird Things was released have, for him, been about boundary pushing, total refusal to be niched and generally being bloody awkward along the way, making the kind of music that his minority fan base regards as visionary whilst the more open minded have frequently been left scratching their heads.

SquarePusher Ufabulum Album

Looking like an extra from Tron on the front cover, there are signs on Ufabulum that, at least in part, Jenkinson is ready to compromise on some of his more confrontational aesthetics, Stadium Ice wearing the fresh 'n' clean post-disco threads of Daft Punk with a touch more drum 'n' bass syncopation. This comes shortly after the almost trancey, front room synths of opener 4001 have gone most of the way to convincing the listener that they've picked up the wrong CD, and then, to add to any potential confusion the breathless tumble of melody lines that is Energy Wizard, give the impression of an artist who now regards making more accessible work as his next great project.

Long standing acolytes may well be recoiling in horror at a lack of 160bpm drillcore breaks and the kind of highly schizoid tics that come from a water damaged copy of Fruity Loops, but not everything is as airbrushed, with the belching acid of The Metallurgist mirroring the long standing chops of Luke Vibert. Equally inhuman sounding, both Dark Steering and Drax 2 are made from the same kind of evil sounding techno circuitry, especially the latter, which, in a weird way, sounds like a power station making its own tunes would erm. well, sound like. Probably.

It's unlikely that Jenkinson woke up one morning with the intention of pleasing anybody, much less the people who regard his previous work as a minefield of baffling contradictions. If, however, he was seeking to bring more populist opinion to the fold, Ufabulum is at best only a partial success. It seems that, despite the illusion of an olive branch being extended to those outside his den, the truth is that he's still quite happy to grow old disgracefully.

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