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Squarepusher - Hello Everything

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Artist: Squarepusher

Album: Hello Everything

Label: Warp

Review date: Oct. 11, 2006

Here's the thing about the new Squarepusher album: despite its title, Tom Jenkinson sounds awfully focused. And that's a good thing. My two favorite Squarepusher albums are at the opposite ends of his spectrum. The first is 1997's Big Loada, where "Journey to Reedham: 7am mix" seemed to scare potential breakbeat technicians away from even trying to accomplish such a feat. Music is Rotted One Note anchors the other end – spacious, mostly live instrumental jazz-core with enough reverb to make the whole thing feel like it's drowning. Hello Everything is right in the middle of those two records, with a little dash of the excellent Budakhan Mindphone EP thrown in for good melodic measure. Tracks wobble and throb with an attention to breakbeat mastery so complete it's hard to imagine someone concocting a more fluid way to build and release energy.

The 11-minute opener "Orient Orange" begins in the cavernous acoustic side of Jenkinson's studio, dedicating nearly all of the song to big washes that recall Music is Rotted One Note, which gives you the impression that this album is going to go in a similar direction. Then "Plotinus" begins: an acoustic ride cymbal hammers seamlessly into a cracked breakbeat, tight and alien in a cavernous, abstract space. It's a spastic but easy groove that comes from years of integrating slap-MIDI-synth-bass into his live and recorded works. Stevie Wonder's Wonderland feels very close to the emotion and vibe of Hello Everything (hear "Bubble Life" for a particularly close reference). Bouncy as fuck, soulful in a way others hadn't managed to accomplish before. Fun.

The one thing that detracts from what's otherwise a characteristic and fantastically free song structure is a too-tight adherence to the virtues of iteration. It works sometimes; in "Planetarium," we get a few minutes of raw breaks, then a low melody is added, then a high, and the parts evolve with a nice synergy. In other cases, the grooves appear to be locked in a hyperkinetic sort of stasis, too easily reverting to used themes after they should have been left behind. Some of the longer cuts here could use a structural trim, or perhaps a bit more progression within their boundaries to make the album move along a little easier. There does exist a near-perfect balance of repetition and evolution in "Welcome to Europe" – a song that could be mistaken for newer mu-Ziq; the breakbeat ticks along placidly for most of the song until it's melodically ready for an explosion.

It's certainly not a perfect album, but Hello Everything represents the pinnacle of performance from electronic music's most thoroughly developed mind. I, for one, am perfectly willing to live with the imperfections, and I'll always eagerly anticipate the moment when Tom Jenkinson churns out a perfect expression of what it means to be a musician in the 21st century. It's lurking somewhere in his mind, for sure.

By Trent Wolbe

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