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Feed Us Weird Things: Artists On Their Favourite Squarepusher Music
Patrick Clarke , June 17th, 2021 10:10

To mark the new reissue of Squarepusher's debut album 'Feed Me Weird Things', the likes of Loraine James, John Frusciante and Danalogue pick their favourite albums and tracks by the game-changing producer


Danalogue of The Comet Is Coming and Soccer96 on 'Iambic 9 Poetry' from Ultravisitor (2004)

I first heard Squarepusher in my late teens, me and my mates were getting really switched on by electronic music that was pushing the boundaries of what you imagined music could do. I can remember certain transformative scenarios with mates listening to Hard Normal Daddy and just being launched into another dimension. As I got deeper and deeper into music, I was more attracted to artists where I couldn’t understand how it was made. If the combination of sounds and method of construction contained a mystery or certain incomprehensible magic, it could give me the type of hit I was looking for.

I think the first thing that attracted me was the fast paced, frenetic, incredibly detailed drum patterns, the way they glitched and morphed progressively across a track was mind blowing. I couldn’t believe the level of meticulous artistry that it would take to make his tracks. As I’ve got older, I think I now appreciate more the innovative sound design, like the repetitive hit every two bars on ‘I Wish You Could Talk’ is vital to the whole tune but I couldn’t tell you what instrument or sample that is. I also feel a duality in his work, for instance the way his tracks manage to simultaneously house complexity and simplicity; sometimes there’s a seemingly simple chord sequence and a melody you could whistle, but the way it’s arranged and executed is extraordinarily detailed and complex. I think this duality combines both sides of the brain very well, the right side is meant to intuitively gather the whole picture and the left brain tries to make sense of details through logic and mathematics.

When I was around 21 there was a house of band mates in Brighton where I used to crash. The band was a six piece proggy post rock group, the precursor to Soccer96 which was the precursor to The Comet Is Coming. It had a spare room which was converted into a tiny makeshift studio. I used to mix our records in their living room. Years of incredible moments happened there, friendships and musical understandings had grown there. One day they sadly had to move, so given all the couch surfing I’d done there, and the fact I had the only driver’s license, I hired a van and helped them pack and move. It was an epic all day affair, so around midnight we got back from another trip, back to a completely bare house, and sat around on the floor of the kitchen in silence together, intuitively mourning the end of an era. The silence was broken eventually by my mate putting on ‘Iambic 9 Poetry’, I’d never heard that track before and was captivated. That soundtracked this very poignant moment, and we all listened in rapt silence. It completely blew me away. Changed everything somehow. Afterwards I said, 'What the hell was that?!’ And next chance I got bought Ultravisitor.

That was a really meaningful first listen; it really did kill me. I have continued to return to that track as I’ve got older, and it never ceases to kill me. The chord sequence played on harmonics on the bass guitar is breathtaking and gripped with a rare depth of emotion and beauty. I also have always loved how the drums pick up the beat in a way that sounds ad hoc, the click of the sticks giving an image of someone sitting down at the drums to nail it in one take. I also really dig the sound of the drums, a roomy ambience, fairly extreme in terms of treble and loud in the mix so you can hear every detail. The chord sequence moves steadily and elegantly through blooming delays and reverbs while the drums get ever more daring and experimental.

It was odd because in Soccer96 and later Comet Is Coming my own synth playing often contains repetitions of chord progressions, holding it down, while Betamax is free to explore his dextrous polyrhythmic vocabulary. In our earlier life this seemed pretty avant garde as we were knocking around in circles where often drummers just held a simple 4/4 beat to serve a song. We were already starting to create this language when I first heard ‘Iambic 9 Poetry’, but I think hearing Squarepusher destroy it like this gave us the green light to go further, gave us the validation that we weren’t crazy or pretentious, the encouragement to go deep, to go all the way.