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- Squarepusher »
Sometimes it’s possible to stay for the duration of an entire musical performance – a brief toilet break aside – and not actually remember any of it come the hands-in-the-air, instruments on the floor conclusion. Well, instrument on this occasion, as Tom Jenkinson’s chosen weapon, a pair of laptops and some wee boxes of circuitry duly excepted, is his much-treasured bass guitar.
The one thing that does stick in the mind’s eye, if not the mind’s ear, is the man otherwise known as Squarepusher running his left hand up and down and back up the neck of his bass; when he hunches over his flip-screen computers and effects stuff – which he claims to know more about than their own manufacturers; he is that into exploring every possibility his equipment can provide – an essential visual component of the night’s set is lost. Screens either side of the lone on-stage figure provide an opening-couple distraction, but once their patterns – generated semi-spontaneously, based upon the music pumping from the PA – have been decoded, they become a borderline nuisance. Eyes must be shielded.
Perhaps the screens – brilliant white light on a black background – are one reason why so few specifics stick, setlist-wise, once DiS has exited the Electric Ballroom; a better explanation, though, is that Jenkinson doesn’t make music for you to hear, as such, but rather that he crafts wonderfully mesmerising, hypnotically potent swathes of tough-to-pin sound that are felt, by more than a single sense. At times his beats match those of the heart, the synchronisation so overwhelmingly whoa that the body near collapses in awe. As violent as Jenkinson’s hammer-to-the-head approach to grabbing an audience can be, he never once loses sight of the necessity to meld freeform elements with solid compositional cores; thus, each offering is underpinned by constants. The fly-away components never need return as an unfaltering direction is established from the outset, each and every time.
Or, at least, we think that’s the case – Squarepusher seems to vanish just as soon as he’s appeared, and we’re so disorientated by the apparent theft of forty-odd minutes that we’re rendered speechless to the point of not being able to ask companions what just happened. Language is deconstructed, broken down to glances and twitched expressions. It’s perhaps an appropriate state to be left in, as Jenkinson’s own dismantling of multiple traditional genres to construct a wonderfully unique something is done so minus words – it’s the silences between the scattered pockets of chaos that strike with the most purpose. He leaves the stage without an audible word, applause ringing louder than anything that preceded it, be said sounds the product of electric bass or mains-powered processors.
And just like that: every single particular is swept away by a rush of noise.
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