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Squarepusher - Feed Me Weird Things CD (album) cover

FEED ME WEIRD THINGS

Squarepusher

 

Jazz Rock/Fusion

3.60 | 12 ratings

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siLLy puPPy
4 stars Before Tom Jenkinson would adopt his better known name as SQUAREPUSHER he would grow up playing Metallica inspired thrash metal before finding a new found interest in the world of house music, hardcore, acid house and techno but along the same timeline he developed a taste for all things jazz and by putting all of the aforementioned together in creative new ways was one of the pioneers of the nascent Intelligent Dance Music (IDM). Ironically the term IDM which insinuates a more intelligent way to dance is actually a form of music that is often not very danceable at all and the goal of the artist is to create a more cerebral effect in the context of electronic dance music. After a few years of getting his feet wet in the world of breakbeats and electronica, SQUAREPUSHER developed his skills as both a musician and a producer and on his debut FEED ME WEIRD THINGS he displays these talents as the sole creative force.

While generally lumped into both jazz-fusion and drum and bass electronica camps, SQUAREPUSHER is a bit more eclectic and hard to pin down and exhibited a restless creativity matched perhaps only by the similar unpredictabilities of Aphex Twin. FEED ME WEIRD THINGS was the culmination of several years of creative sprees and the 12 tracks that made it onto this album were culled from over 50 that were actually made and date from late 1994 to 1995. In December of 95 Jenkinson was offered a five album contract with War Records which is when he dropped out of his degree program at Chelsea Art College and officially took on the SQUAREPUSHER role to forge bravely into the world of jazz infused electronica where he has remained ever since.

FEED ME WEIRD THINGS is a smorgasbord of differing forms of eclectic sound streams and follows a nonlinear path through various stylistic approaches. While the jazz tag gets used too liberally for SQUAREPUSHER's works, it is by no means incorporated into every track. While the beginning "Squarepusher Theme" indeed starts off as a veritable salute to the great bop bassist jazz cats of the past and continues on throughout the album sporadically on tracks like "The Swifty", "Windscale 2", and "Kodack"and more often than not usually as a contrast to the hyper grooves of the drill and bass percussion session and then only limited to the bass parts, there are just as many moments dedicated to atmospheric passages that provide darkened mood settings that border on horror flick as well as industrial noise such as on "Dimotane Co" which provides a bleakness rarely embarked upon except in small doses.

As the jazzy touches provide the angularities for the twisted melodies (where they exist,) FEED ME WEIRD THINGS is clearly dominated by the heavy electronic fast beats known as drum and bass which is a style of electronic dance music that has big fat quicker percussive drives and heavy bass lines and a derivative style of the greater IDM umbrella term. SQUAREPUSHER also pushes more than squares as he ramps it all up with the even more challenging cousin style called drill and bass which is a rhythmically challenging subgenre of IDM that dishes out intricate and speedy drum patterns derived from drum and bass but engaging in more complex time signature deviations and an incessant desire to provide the most startling weirdness possibly in the context of a relentless groove. While the jazz parts are optional and occasional, the drill and bass rhythms are the entire backbone of SQUAREPUSHER's nu jazz ethos.

Occasionally on the short tracks like "Smedley's Medley" the jazz along with the drill and bass are equal partners on the dance floor. The jazz grooved bass is accompanied by a veritable freakout of percussive drive and weird electronic noises that even includes a goat however one of the most distinct tracks has to be "Theme From Ernest Borgnine" which begins with a Berlin School style of progressive electronic not unlike Tangerine Dream before erupting into a stamped of digital drill and bass freneticism that stays on hyperdrive while the main introductory chilled melodies continue to cyclically loop and build atmospheric intensity and ends in an energetic climax unlike anything else on the album. The track is also a testament to SQUAREPUSHER's master in the producer's seat. The contrasting sounds on this album never compete to be heard but somehow exist in each other's shadow's as if a tapestry of two timelines has momentary intertwined.

What should prove to be a disaster of an unthinkable magnitude is channeled into one of the coolest 90s electronica albums that emerged in the relentless pursuit of more intricately designed sounds that would take the masses off of the dance floor and into the cerebral labyrinth of the mind. With a mix of atmospherics that wouldn't sound out of place on Aphex Twin's "Selected Ambient Works, Vol 1" along with jazzy chord progressions and bass workouts that commingle with highly energetic electronic freakery and drill and bass bombast, SQUAREPUSHER created a dynamic set of mysterious sounding weirdness that more than lives up to the title's intent. While sometimes rooted in the angularities of avant-garde jazz and at others within the more funky danceable realms, FEED ME WEIRD THINGS keeps it all flowing along in an interesting way by alternating the frenetic speedy madness with the more contemplative slower chill out sessions. Perhaps the album is a bit long at 66:38 and could've used a track or two cut from its lengthy sprawl but overall this in an intriguing album.

siLLy puPPy | 4/5 |

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