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Just A Souvenir John Doran , November 6th, 2008 11:02

Squarepusher - Just A Souvenir

Squarepusher, Tom Jenkinson, plays against the perception of him as a beardy party-pooper here. Apparently the album's genesis came from a daydream the bassist had of an ultra-gig, which included a giant fluorescent coat hanger, a full size replica of the Camden Falcon and a bad ass funk band with an Eskimo drummer and a time manipulation device. 'Yes, yes, yes' we hear you say, 'but is any of this tom-foolery audibly detectable from the actual record?' Well, in a way, yes. For starters that gig sounds like a top laugh and so is this long player (Jenkinson' s eleventh to date). Time itself wasn't being manipulated on the last album in any profound or visceral sense, only your patience was. Just A Souvenir is more like the ultra-gig or ultra-after show party that happens after Ultra-Visitor is laid down, missing out the ever so slightly tedious jazz funk interlude of Hello Everything. Someone snarked him for looking like a "contestant" from Robot Wars but this is exactly the Squarepusher we love; the one hyped up on the pancreas battering 'energy' drink Relentless, unconcerned with what he looks like, just hell bent on causing technological mayhem. This is 'Red Hot Car' redux but this time funk is in his sights rather than synth pop.

The album opens with some rather stately and gentle sounding flamenco guitar on 'Star Time 2' as if to lull the listener into a false sense of security. But this rapidly gives way to 'The Coathanger' which sounds like listening to Dragonforce and The Cardiacs simultaneously via other people's mobile phones on the top deck of a bus - except far less panic-inducing than that sounds. On 'Open Society' his trademark elastic bass is filtered through the slightly implausible prism of coming home after a rave in 1988 before 'ambient' music had been reinvented leaving you with only a mix of Ceefax and the Open University to chill you out. The baroque yet tinny diss to an un-named female in 'A Real Lady' is oddly hilarious yet catchy with it's cockney vocoder refrain: "Everything you say should be listened to. Everything you say, well, it should be understood."

Songs like 'Aqueduct' are mere vignettes – lightly sketched ideas which perhaps hark back a little too much to the po-faced idea of IDM and the soulless jazz funk that certain elements of the drum and bass scene tried to foist upon the breaks in the mid 90s to make it palatable for home listening. That said, these little glitches are just that: little. And over before they've barely begun.

Elsewhere there is the sun dappled and overdriven fuzz funk of 'Potential Govaner' which never fails to get everyone at Quietus Towers grooving in unison to its preposterously catchy refrain. 'Tensor In Green' revisits the concept of long haired Californian lab assistants getting down with the vibes and the double bass, and he has barely come close to matching the immersive UFOid fonk of 'Quadrature'. It is true that there are more than a couple of noodly IDM abstractions here and there, but for the most part this is hip level and maggot brained rather than just wannabe brainy.