Music

Squarepusher: Go Plastic

Kirsten Koba

Squarepusher

Go Plastic

Label: Warp
US Release Date: 2001-07-10
Amazon
iTunes

Tom Jenkinson is hard. Don't be fooled by the fluffy beard, the cute Essex boy accent. He's difficult, frustrating, out of control. Better known as Squarepusher (appropriate for this man who pushes buttons), Jenkinson mixes up jazz, funk, acid-house, drum'n'bass, and whatever else he's feeling, to create a sound like nails on a chalkboard or a skipping Slayer record. A sound that is incredibly beautiful.

Go Plastic, the latest release on Warp, is a spasmodic mind-fuck. Fast and furious with moments of melodic intimacy, it is music for the intelligent and adventurous. More than an album, Go Plastic is a wierd romp through the history of electronica and the crevices of Jenkinson's twisted mind.

The album seems tame enough at first, comfortably starting with "My Red Hot Car", a groovy two-step party piece. Danceable beats, catchy vocals, and a funky melody make it an ass-shaking winner. Sure, he shouts out the universal gimme props slogan, "what, what," and the song is essentially an anthem to his dick, but it's mixed up with enough irony to keep it cool.

And then everything goes to hell. The bass drops. Jenkinson throws you down like giant playing yo-yo with a ten ton ball. Gyrations take hold, a swarm of wasps start buzzing, sizzling, bleeps and boinks fall deep and hard. You're in space. Ships blasting away galaxies that turn into zeros and ones, pixels on an arcade game, Pac Man on crack, or maybe MDMA, the world blown away with the Milky Way.

Another flick of the yo-yo. This time it is jazzy, smooth. But the album never stays straight for more than a few moments. The jazz beats get twisted, bubble-gum around a finger. Faster and faster, songs fly by and suddenly you're under water. The sounds echoe, reverberate, all aqua and Atlantis, until it is communion. During the intricate "Go! Spastic", Jenkinson teases listeners with an eerie church organ, quite a bit Phantom of the Opera, sexy and sinister.

He lets you know "The Exploding Psychology" of his mind. Harsh, frantic breaks breeze past at 300 bpm. Just when you think Jenkinson has raced ahead, lost you for good, he pickes you up with a gorgeous melody, android a cappella. And there is a plateau, pretty and swinging like summertime.

Squarepusher can't keep up the pretty-boy purring for too long however, it's just not his style. Once again Go Plastic becomes all computer blips, knobs, switches, freestyle jazz implemented with a dial. There is nothing steady. The music is awkward, but exciting. Beats start jack hammering, a TV without reception, the static almost unbearable.

Suddenly there are harps. You are in heaven or inside a music box. The low notes of a piano resound heavily. That's when he screams this is "My Fucking Sound", and it is obvious the trip is nearing an end. He blasts out feedback and distortion, anger and passion a la Kurt Cobain. He twists beats and throws in some funk and says this is what I offer. Then he slows it all down, like water dripping, booty slapping, deep and sexy R&B. And that is it. The sounds slowly trickle down the drain, leaving you exhausted, satisfied, and in desperate need of a cigarette.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

In the wake of Malcolm Young's passing, Jesse Fink, author of The Youngs: The Brothers Who Built AC/DC, offers up his top 10 AC/DC songs, each seasoned with a dash of backstory.

Keep reading... Show less

Pauline Black may be called the Queen of Ska by some, but she insists she's not the only one, as Two-Tone legends the Selecter celebrate another stellar album in a career full of them.

Being commonly hailed as the "Queen" of a genre of music is no mean feat, but for Pauline Black, singer/songwriter of Two-Tone legends the Selecter and universally recognised "Queen of Ska", it is something she seems to take in her stride. "People can call you whatever they like," she tells PopMatters, "so I suppose it's better that they call you something really good!"

Keep reading... Show less

Morrison's prose is so engaging and welcoming that it's easy to miss the irreconcilable ambiguities that are set forth in her prose as ineluctable convictions.

It's a common enough gambit in science fiction. Humans come across a race of aliens that appear to be entirely alike and yet one group of said aliens subordinates the other, visiting violence upon their persons, denigrating them openly and without social or legal consequence, humiliating them at every turn. The humans inquire why certain of the aliens are subjected to such degradation when there are no discernible differences among the entire race of aliens, at least from the human point of view. The aliens then explain that the subordinated group all share some minor trait (say the left nostril is oh-so-slightly larger than the right while the "superior" group all have slightly enlarged right nostrils)—something thatm from the human vantage pointm is utterly ridiculous. This minor difference not only explains but, for the alien understanding, justifies the inequitable treatment, even the enslavement of the subordinate group. And there you have the quandary of Otherness in a nutshell.

Keep reading... Show less
3

A 1996 classic, Shawn Colvin's album of mature pop is also one of best break-up albums, comparable lyrically and musically to Joni Mitchell's Hejira and Bob Dylan's Blood on the Tracks.

When pop-folksinger Shawn Colvin released A Few Small Repairs in 1996, the music world was ripe for an album of sharp, catchy songs by a female singer-songwriter. Lilith Fair, the tour for women in the music, would gross $16 million in 1997. Colvin would be a main stage artist in all three years of the tour, playing alongside Liz Phair, Suzanne Vega, Sheryl Crow, Sarah McLachlan, Meshell Ndegeocello, Joan Osborne, Lisa Loeb, Erykah Badu, and many others. Strong female artists were not only making great music (when were they not?) but also having bold success. Alanis Morissette's Jagged Little Pill preceded Colvin's fourth recording by just 16 months.

Keep reading... Show less
9

Frank Miller locates our tragedy and warps it into his own brutal beauty.

In terms of continuity, the so-called promotion of this entry as Miller's “third" in the series is deceptively cryptic. Miller's mid-'80s limited series The Dark Knight Returns (or DKR) is a “Top 5 All-Time" graphic novel, if not easily “Top 3". His intertextual and metatextual themes resonated then as they do now, a reason this source material was “go to" for Christopher Nolan when he resurrected the franchise for Warner Bros. in the mid-00s. The sheer iconicity of DKR posits a seminal work in the artist's canon, which shares company with the likes of Sin City, 300, and an influential run on Daredevil, to name a few.

Keep reading... Show less
8
Pop Ten
Mixed Media
PM Picks

© 1999-2017 Popmatters.com. All rights reserved.
Popmatters is wholly independently owned and operated.

rating-image