This is the prolific Tom Jenkinson’s sixthalbum for Warp, and still the creative fire burnsbrightly. He remains an artist whose work demands tobe heard, its direction far from predictable and itsstyle never set in stone.
That said, Jenkinson seems to be moving to animprovised form of melodic drum and bass, softeningthe sound palette as he does so. Hello Everything,then, lacks the confrontational sharp edges, but stopssome way short of becoming easy listening.
The first few notes confirm Hello Meow as a rarecommodity, a potential single with its catchy hook.Perhaps that’s taking things a bit far – after all,drum and bass has never been a staple of the daytimeairwaves – but the track recalls the jazzy ambiencethat artists like Alex Reece brought to drumand bass in the mid 1990s.
So a friendly sound it may be, but peel back thelayers and a keen sense of structure is revealed,along with delicate touches of orchestration.Vibraphone motifs drift in and out of the picture, thebreakbeat rhythm chatters and crisply propels thingsalong. This is the case elsewhere, with no sign of theindustrial sounds that often crop up in Jenkinson’sfrenetic live shows.
The delicate scoring and light beats thatcharacterize tracks such as Welcome Europe arecomplemented by warm, funky bass loops and improvised,synthesized treble lines. Harmonies are often complexand fast moving, the music airborne and nippy.
Just when you think you’ve cracked a Squarepusherblueprint however, things take a more sinister turn.Vacuum Garden is more a noise track than music and isa disquieting experience, an enemy plane passingoverhead. This spills over into Circlewave 2, wherescattered drums and a languid guitar line take a whileto lighten the mood. Once achieved a Latin-inflectedimprovisation takes over, loosely based on Hello Meow,and the warmth returns.
Plotinus, meanwhile, combines Squarepusher old andnew, with a beat that zips along at well over 160bpm,the overall sound largely ambient to start with, butas softly shifting harmonic patterns compete with afast, softened bass sound the drums start to takeover, with signs of the infamous “drill and bass.”
Once again this is a thought provoking andstimulating listen from Squarepusher, continuallydeveloping his style and surprising in his lightnessof touch and inclusion of Latin and funk influences.It will be interesting to see where this takes himnext.