Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Squarepusher: Feed Me Weird Things

     Released in 1996, Tom Jenkinson's debut record as Squarepusher dropped during the July of that year and has not been forgotten. Considered by myself to be one of the greatest debut albums of all time, Feed Me Weird Things is a fascinating fusion of drum and bass, a genre I don't usually appreciate, jazz and early acid experimentation, all of which accumulate to form an epitaph of brilliant music. The problem with Jenkinson's work after this album though, is the constant comparison to this, arguably his best ever.
     One of the first connotations the words drum and bass bring to mind, and indeed a feature seen in most traditional drum and bass records, is the use of mindless and fast beats. These are usually devoid of variation and made for the drunk on a dancefloor to appreciate, despite their lacking mindframe. Not that that isn't fine, as this album does incorporate these elements, but just in a manner separate to the usual dance music sounds that I've been exposed to. Take the second track, for example. 'Tundra' starts with slow and soothing hums that emulate the name of the song, with the beats then coming in over the top. Coming in as one of the longest tracks, this has to be one of my favourites!
     The waves of beats roll in and out on the tide of the serene, jazz infused backing track. The sections of drum and bass fade in and out over the top of the glitchy and surreal hums that wade through the peaceful swamp of sound that makes up this song. Throughout this twelve track record actually, there is a sense of perfect balance between the drum beats that throb and swell, and the jazz instrumentals that swing and reminisce.
     'The Swifty's very tribal sounds match well with the croaking frog-like noises that emerge from within this song, lending themselves to create a fantastic atmosphere. Certain saxophone solos are also beautifully incorporated! A superb ending filled with ominous heartbeats and metallic drums lead into the fluctuating drone that marks the start of the next track. Sounds with an almost muffled feel work their way through these four minutes to a startlingly abrupt finish. The striking sampled sounds from 'Smedleys Melody' make for added variation to this already varied album, as do the chiptune beeps and solemn echoes at the start of 'Windscale 2'. Simply awe-inspiring!
     'Goodnight Jade' is another one of my favourites from this collection of twelve. The lack of prominent fast beats and the presence of throbbing heart-like beats makes the listener feel like they're underwater, floating through another world with eyes wide open. Discovering a new planet and silently taking it in before your eyes shut as your final breath leaves you. The track straight after has a similar atmosphere, though slightly more pressing and with more urgency in feel than it's afore-mentioned successor. The alien bleeps that also run through the middle of 'U.F.O.'s Over Leytonstone' match the song's title perfectly. As the album draws to a close, I feel saddened by it's end, in a good way.
     'Future Gibbon', the track that finishes the album, definitely feels the noisiest, with it's glitches and short pauses for breath. This song fades in, and eventually fades out. As I listened to the last sounds ebb away, I sat for about five minutes, as I usually do, and contemplated what I'd heard. I came to the conclusion that this was a record that feels right in nearly every corner, and one that I'll never forget. Drum and bass fans. Jazz fans. Experimental fans. Squarepusher is an artist you have to hear, without question!