Squarepusher: Ultravisitor

AAJ Staff By

Sign in to view read count
Squarepusher: Ultravisitor Tom Jenkinson, better known as Squarepusher to the listening public, has always lurked in a realm of abstraction that makes his electronica/fusion impossible to pin down. As an early pioneer of highly programmed drum-n-bass, he placed his electric bass alongside frenetic and ever-changing beats. You simply could not afford to get lost in the details, because the shifting, insisting whole begged submission.

When he crossed over to the jazz world with Music is Rotted One Note (Warp, 1998), he largely swapped in live instruments for the sequenced kind, relaxed the frenzy, and earned attention from listeners attuned to early electric jazz/rock fusion by Miles Davis (and more importantly produced, in an equivalent role, by Teo Macero). He's been mixing the two approaches ever since, though Go Plastic (Warp, 2001) presented dense sequencing of the most abstract and devastating kind.

Ultravisitor finds Squarepusher back at the nexus between live and programmed sounds (and, of course, the blurry in-between). Moments like the keyboard-driven, gonged-out space music at the end of the first track (and the gentle, reverberant, fugue-like guitar lines three tracks later) herald another compromise, not his most successful but plenty revealing in any case. Such is the way of a man lost in his own personal world of endless abstraction, one we can visit and admire but rarely fully comprehend. The one time I spoke with Tom Jenkinson, I went away with more questions than answers.

You can sense the clear contrast between styles by comparing the clearly live drumming on "Iambic 9 Poetry," the fully warped electronic noise of "Steinbelt," and busy, programmed rhythms of "Menelec." Fusion fans will appreciate the Pastorius-inflected solo movement of "C-Town Smash," but its brief minute and a half fade quickly. A full revisitation of old school drill-n-bass follows down the road with "District Line II."

Crowd noise and audience interaction ("How are you? ...[cheers]... Good!") suggest a certain enforced liveness that is just as often as not betrayed by effects and programming-heavy sheets of sound. By the time the closing "Every Day I Love" moves out on a folk-ish guitar serenade, you're still left wondering exactly what just happened.

Squarepusher remains near the leading edge of experimental electronica, despite this retro-ish affair. Listeners who are skeptical that computer-powered music can achieve the same density and intensity as live performance will find their preconceptions crumbled into bits here (and most likely their immediate appreciation of what's actually going on as well). This is not easy music, and it's rough around the edges, but there's something noble about forging onward in the compromise space of middle ground.

Note: different versions of this record are described online at Warp Records .

Track Listing: 1. Ultravisitor 2. I Fulcrum 3. Iambic 9 Poetry 4. Andrei 5. 50 Cycles 6. Menelec 7. C-town Smash 8. Steinbolt 9. An Arched Pathway 10. Telluric Piece 11. District Line Ii 12. Circlewave 13. Tetra-sync 14. Tommib Help Buss 15. Every Day I Love

Personnel: Squarepusher: instruments and production.

Title: Ultravisitor | Year Released: 2004 | Record Label: Warp


comments powered by Disqus

More Articles

Read BACHanalia CD/LP/Track Review BACHanalia
by Jack Bowers
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Hallways CD/LP/Track Review Hallways
by Paul Rauch
Published: June 24, 2017
Read The Crave CD/LP/Track Review The Crave
by John Sharpe
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub) CD/LP/Track Review Chase The Light (Excursions in Soul, Reggae, Funk, and Dub)
by Joe Gatto
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965 CD/LP/Track Review Kickin' Child - The Lost Album 1965
by Doug Collette
Published: June 24, 2017
Read Towards Language CD/LP/Track Review Towards Language
by John Eyles
Published: June 23, 2017
Read "Common Ground" CD/LP/Track Review Common Ground
by Jack Bowers
Published: April 16, 2017
Read "Live At Shinjuku Pit Inn" CD/LP/Track Review Live At Shinjuku Pit Inn
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 9, 2016
Read "Find the Way" CD/LP/Track Review Find the Way
by Karl Ackermann
Published: May 26, 2017
Read "Live In Brooklyn" CD/LP/Track Review Live In Brooklyn
by Roger Farbey
Published: January 23, 2017
Read "Confirmation" CD/LP/Track Review Confirmation
by Nicola Negri
Published: September 5, 2016
Read "Illegal Crowns" CD/LP/Track Review Illegal Crowns
by John Sharpe
Published: December 10, 2016

Join the staff. Writers Wanted!

Develop a column, write album reviews, cover live shows, or conduct interviews.