Although he hasn’t released a full album since 2001’s Go Plastic, 28 year old Tom ‘Squarepusher’ Jenkinson has had a massive last 12 months. A 2003 US summer tour sold out on the strength of word of mouth, followed by a similarly frenzied UK week of shows.
The Neptunes nominated his 2002 live album (with bonus EP) Do You Know Squarepusher for the Shortlist Prize (the US equivalent of the Mercury Prize). Sofia Coppola selected his music for the soundtrack of her film Lost In Translation. Seminal video director Chris Cunningham (whose work has recently been compiled on a DVD retrospective in conjunction with Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry) has been painstakingly working on a film based around Squarepusher’s music. Radiohead’s Thom Yorke will tell anyone within earshot how much he admires the Pusher man’s sound. And Outkast’s Andre 3000 cannot stop talking about him.
“Squarepusher’s the shit,” Andre told Q magazine. “I like anything by Squarepusher – I never heard anything remotely like that stuff and I love him,” he added in Word magazine. “It’s coming from so far out that you can’t even imagine what he’s thinking. There are two people who really humble me and blow my mind, and it’s him and Aphex Twin – get Feed Me Weird Things by Squarepusher. I wish I could make an album that sounds like those guys...”
Suffice to say, Squarepusher’s ninth album Ultravisitor has just upped the ante. He’s been raising the bar since his first tracks made as a teenager for the Spymania label, perpetually on mission to capture delirious energy and uninhibited passion in sounds like you’d never heard before. The classic debut Feed Me Weird Things on Rephlex in 1996 paved the way for defining the sound of the drum ‘n’ bass dancefloor, drawing on acid, neural funk, the physical intensity of hardcore rave and breakbeat, his love of jazz drummers, a flirtation with 2-step garage on the underground hit ‘My Red Hot Car’ and a tender side that showed in his stunning ability with melody – not to mention a hearwrenchingly faithful cover of Joy Division’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ on Do You Know Squarepusher.
In December 2003, Darren Johnston, an acclaimed British choreographer, video artist and sound designer, performed a new piece at London’s South Bank Centre to a soundtrack of unreleased Squarepusher music. Inimitable in his quest to map new borders of sound and feel, with Ultravisitor, Tom Jenkinson has just delivered the album of his life that will have even his peers wondering where to turn next.
Completely unaware of the storm of critical opinion gathering pace in his wake, Tom Jenkinson has been closeted in his suburban Chelmsford house like the true eccentric maverick that he is, making extraordinary music and wrestling with ideas.
From his perspective, his challenge is to find the point of tension between his two loves – his all-time passion, playing bass and the drums – alongside the satisfying mental absorption he finds in programming and sequencing on a computer. To hold these two divergent ideas in his mind at the same time, and imagine music that redefines emotional intensity and explodes restrictive genre boundaries of musical language – welcome to the odyssey that is Ultravisitor.
Previewed at this summer’s UK and US shows, The Times were overwhelmed by “an extraordinary racket” 4/5. “This is what would happen if George Clinton swapped his Mothership for the Death Star” added Playlouder. But that’s one aspect of Ultravisitor. Even the legion of dedicated Squarepusher fans, not to mention the uninitiated, will be bowled over by the powerful shift in melodic development, Squarepusher's mastery of dynamics the way the album transports the listener to a whole new dimension.
Please note! While there appear to be recordings from live shows on this album, this is not necessarily the case. We leave it up to you to draw your own conclusions.
An exclusive download of a non-album track, ‘Squarewindow’ will be available with the January launch of Warp’s MP3 download service, bleep.com.
Squarepusher will feature as part of a Contemporary Music Network live tour in March together with the London Sinfonietta, with whom he has been collaborating in an historic meeting of traditional and contemporary musical ideas. A continuation of the Warp Works and 20th Century Masters event that debuted at the 2003 Ether Festival, this year Squarepusher and Jamie Lidell will tour with the Sinfonietta for five UK dates, their music heard alongside the Sinfonietta’s performance of works by pioneering classical composers Reich, Cage, Antheil, Varèse as well as three new pieces by Aphex Twin. Praised as ‘a brilliantly conceived concert’ by New York Times, the 2004 event promises to be spectacular. Squarepusher then heads to US in April for his own shows.
LONDON SINFONIETTA, SQUAREPUSHER & JAMIE LIDELL in association with the South Bank Centre and Contemporary Music Network perform Antheil, Aphex Twin, Cage, Lidell, Reich, Squarepusher, Varèse:
12 March 04 – Ether Festival, RFH London
13 March 04 - Warwick Arts Centre, Coventry
16 March 04 - Anvil, Basingstoke
26 March 04 - Dome, Brighton
27 March 04 - Royal Philharmonic Hall, Liverpool
02. I Fulcrum
03. Iambic 9 Poetry
05. 50 Cycles
07. C-Town Smash
09. An Arched Pathway
10. Telluric Piece
11. District Line II
14. Tommib Help Buss
15. Every Day I Love
His new album Underneath It All is out now.