Bring your best, this is an exciting competition to take part in.
English born musician Tom Jenkinson aka Squarepusher unveils his new creation in Ufabulum with London’s Warp Records. More than a dozen full length albums and scores of ep’s and singles later and Squarepusher has come back full circle with Ufabulum, giving the world of ten tracks of classic Squarepusher electronica that will blast out speakers this month. As a technically devoted electronic experimentalist, Squarepusher has defined his own path and one that is so unique and technically demanding nobody has been able to trace his footsteps. 16th and 32nd note drum patterns take rapid flight inside of locked in gear like patterns while synthetic barrages of layers unfold, peeling back sheet after sheet. Ufabulum is a landing point into Squarepusher’s past and breaks away from his ground breaking live bass work to dive very deep into a complete make up of a futuristic music world built entirely on an electronic grid.
Ufabulum‘s opening piece “4001″ glides in right away with a glorious drum break reminiscent of early Aphex Twin. Dark and carnivorous in aura, there is an on edge feeling from the bouncing of metallic like percussion. When the song breaths and percussion falls out, a milky and dreamy swirl of synth showers through until the building up of percussion comes back. The synth keeps building as this opening piece flows through over six minutes of mind altering electronica. The evolution of an artist is always very important, but so are ones roots and already the album breaths of everything Squarepusher became recognized for. I always try to wrap my head around the labyrinth of sound that Squarepusher achieves and this album like any of his others, leaves me shattered when trying to process it all into a cohesive understanding. Electrifying and thrilling, Ufabulum is everything I hoped for in this period of Squarepusher’s career.
“Unreal Square” is a song that I latched onto right away. With an 8-bit intro that really makes it as playful as it is sleek and dark rhythmical, this is one of those songs I played on repeat for hours while writing for another project and a track I go back to a lot. The ending is euphoric when the time meter doubles up and the drum patterns sound like they are imploding inside of the machine in which is producing it. It’s unreal to think how tightly spaced each percussion and synth part is layered inside of one another, something that reveals its framework deeper and deeper the further my mind focuses in. Squarepusher has always made albums where the listener’s ear has to be as involved and locked in as the music coming at you. There’s not breaking loose from this one to answer a phone call if you are trying to hear how everything unfolds. As soon as “Unreal Square” feels like it’s about to completely separate from itself, the main melody comes back in to interject a balance. Squarepusher achieves that tight rope walk balance of an act as he pushes every song to an extreme before bringing it back to its center.
With the album relying on so much drum patterns and interlocking synth work, the piece “Red In Blue” is a breaking of this cycle and serves as the only song on Ufabulum without any drums whatsoever. Warm yet dark, this sounds like soundtrack music to a Rod Serling sci-fi creation and is the perfect launching pad for how explosive the next piece is, “The Metallurgist”.
“The Metallurgist” is by far my favorite piece on the album, breaking into form with a flight pattern that moves at light speed. The drifting synth that hangs over the rapid percussion is surreal and makes the piece as haunting as it is futuristic. These are the type of drum breaks that are impossible to play on a live drum set and they never loose position or a consistent flow forward. This is one of the darkest songs on the album and feels like it’s ripping dimensions a part, creating new matter in its rippling existence. I pace around my room in amazement as each sound evokes that how the hell did that just happen mind state and I become further entrapped into it’s dark beauty. “Drax 2″ feels like a smoothing out of the chaos that was “The Metallurgist”, riding on a really organic form of percussion and dark overtone work that gives it that omni present and more free feeling. “Drax 2″ is the kind of music that gangsters will be playing in their lowered flying vehicles come 2150.; oldies they’ll call it. I always wonder how this type of music will resonate with the masses come 100 years from now and I truly feel Ufabulum is the kind of album that will stand the test of time.
On Ufabulum, the indescribable music lineage of Squarepusher thrives yet again and the melodic and rhythmic foundations are just as striking, beautiful, forward thinking and poised as any release in his catalog. The inclusion of new gear, new technical proficiencies and a vestige of the past, present and future give Ufabulum that extra touch in which has kept Squarepusher so influential yet a sound nobody can copy, let alone come close to even touch.
A track by track break down from Squarepusher via Warp Records
Music always has an imaginary visual aspect for me, ranging from evocations of simple combinations of colours, through complex geometric arrangements to real-life scenes. This project is focused on allowing visual aspects to feed back to the music that I make and vice versa, in order to bind them as closely together as I can. I’ve only ever seen the point of using imagery when it is completely locked, both rhythmically and conceptually, to the music.
Track by track…
Track 1 — 4001
I was working on a visual representation of a large underwater structure that you could gradually start seeing bits of, but at no point would the whole thing be revealed. That image gave me the idea of a tidal wave of polyphony smashing over this submarine edifice. It was at this point that I realised I wanted to work in black and white, because the piece seemed so much more unreal and savage without colour gradations.
Track 2 — Unreal Square
I had made the image of a square outline morphing into a kind of circular saw with a vicious shining blade, rotating in two directions at once. At the same time I had been trying to make a bass sound that had the quality of being sharp enough to rip through concrete. I put it together with the circular saw and it was pretty nasty. I added the melody and it was transformed into a kind of industrial sea-shanty, which I’m sure I’ve never heard before.
Track 3 — Stadium Ice
My main source of music as a kid was the radio and I’ve always been fascinated by how massive music sounds on FM broadcasts, to the point where I’ve bought the record but then gone back to listening to the radio tape because it sounded better. In my head I call it the “stadium sound.” I came up with the main theme in the chorus which is actually a processed vocal, and it made me think of a continually dissolving and reforming Greek ampitheatre. So I developed the visual aspect to represent a perpetually regenerating ancient stadium, built in stone.
Track 4 — Energy Wizard
Arpeggios often remind me of bacteria, and you could certainly call them a disease in some kinds of music. In this piece I was working on a bassline featuring these whirling arpeggios and I decided to try to generate images that were akin to strobe flashes under a microscope lens where some sort of strange bacteria were proliferating at an alarming rate.
READ THE REST OF THE BREAK DOWN FROM WARP HERE
From Warp Records / warp.net
Pre-order Ufabulum at Bleep
Music and LED visuals by Tom Jenkinson
Camera Direction and Editing by Rollo Jackson
Director of Photography Carl Burke
Squarepusher on Dark Steering:
“For a while I had apocalyptic nightmares about trails of nuclear missiles in the night sky. So I aimed to recreate that strange combination of exhilaration, terror and sadness both visually and emotionally through this piece. It lead to the idea of a spacecraft leaving earth at vast speed to escape, but oddly the music also made me think of it flying through a library. So I generated the visual aspect such that, as the piece progresses, it seems as if the viewer is ever accelerating through massive corridors of books.”
For more on Ufabulum album and live show, visit: