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Squarepusher - Shobaleader One: d'Demonstrator CD (album) cover



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Easy Money
Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
3 stars Its hard to know what to expect from Tom Jenkinson (AKA Squarepusher) these days. Once the leader of the jazzy/progressive end of the drumnbass genre, Jenkinson dabbled with odd electronic pop and rock on 2008's "Just a Souviner" only to return to classic DnB on the follow up, "Numbers Lucent". On his most recent release, "Shaboleader One - D'Demonstrator", Tom returns to the electronic pop, only this time with nary a trace of his roots in jungle and drumnbass. Even to long time fans of modern electronic music, this is an odd one. Basically these are well crafted pop songs with hints of artsy 80s new wave and neo-prog rock played with purposefully plastic sounds, an 80s sounding drum machine and plenty of vocoder vocals. If you can imagine an unlikely mix of video game soundtracks, post-70s Stevie Wonder, 80s Genesis, Tears for Fears, Japanese anima, Seal and current electro-popsters Tobacco/Black Moth Super Rainbow, you might have some kind of idea what this sounds like.

You have to hand it to Jenkinson for being able to move past mash it up extreme slice and dice drum programming into actual song writing, and he proves he is actually one of the best writers out there, but the sound of this album is going to be really hard for a lot of people to get past. There is no doubt that Tom wants this music to sound very artificial in an almost kitsch sort of way; the drum machine is retro, the guitar samples sound like the earliest days of digital technology and the vocoder vocals are present on almost every tune. Although most of the music on here could be labeled as some sort of future pop, on "Cryptic Motion" Jenkinson's restless exploratory side comes through with an odd mix of plastic tech thrash metal topped with heavy gothic keyboards. Also, "Maximum Planck" is cartoony speed metal topped with string synths, a perfect soundtrack for some high speed video game for the modern attention span deficit crowd.

This is an odd one, the plastic sounds are not for everybody, but there is no doubting the excellent craftsmanship and songwriting.

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Posted Saturday, September 3, 2011 | Review Permalink

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