Squarepusher Presents: Shobaleader One


On his last visit to the Kyoto axe-forger, Tom Jenkinson left the renowned craftsman trembling after explaining his demands for a custom piece. “It’s Just a Souvenir", he said, but it became rather more than that: little did he know his tourist-naïveté would lead to the creation of one of the most fêted bass-guitars ever to have left the Kansai region of Japan.

After the 2008 incident, the artisan never expected Jenkinson to have any necessity to return, let alone to locate him and his new basement workshop where his expanded instrumental repertoire now included all solid-bodied guitars. Early this year however, perhaps this time with more spectral-awareness or maybe just a bout of playful Christian Courage (some new friends urged him on with chants of "Amen, Brother!"), Jenkinson returned to Kyoto with a troupe of young bass aficionados collated from clandestine spheres, and, under the guise of International Bass Inspectors, visited old Hansuke. On arrival, the much-obliging character directed the group to the proudly tatami-matted area of the workshop: when settled they politely requested a viewing of “three of your most spectacular pieces, please". On their (rapid) presentation, the group unpinned their “official" name badges (“forgeries" of their own), casting them onto the cobbled street outside, to be quickly shattered by the wheels of rushing trolleys. Dropping their guise, the lot seized the instruments with a flare known only of 12th Century Chelmsfordian Knights. The mats slowly absorbed the blood, with the segments of Hansuke’s body (finally) resting – each slice left with marks from 6-string serrated edges.

Hearing all the gear in action today, with the guitars out of their appropriately subtle matching flight cases, played alongside a synthesiser (vocoder built in) and drum machine, one understands why Jenkinson might have gone to extraordinary lengths to perfect the sound: it really is rather solid. While apparently the fruits of an experiment, the sound of Shobaleader One (for it is they) is refreshing yet comfortably recognisable. If familiar with Jenkinson’s recent more obviously bass-centred output, one might not experience the surprise that a new boundary-pushing Squarepusher album could have evoked, though one feels safe in the shared knowledge that his tendency towards experimentation has not subsided. Jenkinson’s versatility and dexterity demonstrated over countless albums-worth of solo material has secured the man status as a genius, and here he returns to his musical origins as one member of a band, and one that is this time, in more ways than one, his band at that.

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