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Burningn'n Tree

Squarepusher

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Album Review

Warp Records was playing catch-up with all the excellent Tom Jenkinson material floating around. Just the previous year the label saw good returns on his Hard Normal Daddy LP, and now it was time to buy the rights to previous tracks released on the Brit jungle boutique label Spymania. The selection here on Burningn'n Tree is crunchy and uneven, but certainly rewarding for collectors losing faith in the hunt for original limited vinyl pressings. As a bonus, Jenkinson throws in three previously unreleased selections; decent while they last, though not especially memorable. The real treats are Spymania's early gems. The disc sprints forward with the 1996 track "Central Line," which seems atypically straightforward with its 4/4 drum lines — lean and underdeveloped by jungle standards (as well as Jenkinson's), but a perfectly energizing opener. It is tracks like this and "Sarcacid" (also known as "The Duke of Harringay") where he leans on his fantastic bass playing and jazz background, rather than his dizzying programming skills that would bloom on future endeavors. One could argue that here was a time when, perhaps due to equipment limitations, he was more on the musician side of the fence; a man who could play live bass at 240 bpm alongside his hyperactive drum machine, as opposed to the disjointed computer-generated brain chop of Go Plastic or the hazy bong water slosh of Budakhan Mindphone. The compilation here shows Squarepusher in his early days of flight, especially the tracks resurrected from his Conumber EP — the epic 11-minute title track, plus two barely related versions of "Eviscerate," a wonderful balance of organic sounding jazz, atonal machine loops, and fluid bass playing. Jaco would be proud. The album's second to last track is the sloppy dub abandon of "Toast for Hardy," where Squarepusher's echo chamber effects and distorted mumblings add up to something like a bootleg of Peter Tosh babbling in his sleep. "Sarcacid, Pt. 2" brings the LP to a close, and in quite a satisfying way. Shuffling, open-ended hi-hats do leapfrogs over snare rushes and chromium alloy keyboards — certainly an example of icy electronica that grooves. This pseudo album is the reason he has several others, albeit more diverse than this collection would suggest. You may not find any jaw droppers here, but no doubt listeners will find reasons to enjoy this organic (though less polished) treasure chest. Thank you, Warp.

Biography

Born: 17 January 1975 in Chelmsford, Essex, England

Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Tom "Squarepusher" Jenkinson makes manic, schizoid, experimental drum'n'bass with a heavy progressive jazz influence and a lean toward pushing the clichés of the genre out the proverbial window. Rising from near-total obscurity to drum'n'bass cause célèbre in the space of a couple of months, Jenkinson released only a pair of EPs and a DJ Food remix for the latter's Refried Food series before securing EP and LP release plans with three different labels. His first full-length work, Feed Me Weird Things...
Full bio