It’s worth pausing for a moment to take in the story behind Tom Jenkinson’s 11th album as Squarepusher.
“This album started as a daydream about watching a crazy, beautiful rock band play an ultra-gig”, he says. As part of his reverie, he reveals “the drummer was an Eskimo”. As if that weren’t far out enough, he adds “one of the musicians appeared to be using a device attached to the body of his classical guitar that allowed him to accelerate or decelerate time in his immediate vicinity.” And don’t get him started on the glowing coat hanger.
If you take all this into account before listening to the record, it will prove enlightening even if you are a devoted fan. For the explosion of colour is as psychedelic as the cover suggests, with various forms of space jazz, rushes of electronic funk, brief moments of poignancy and sudden bursts of emotion or comedy.
In a sense it builds on the warm, Balearic overtones of previous album Hello Everything, despite the Eskimo drummer. Jenkinson’s head during this dream is revealed as a hive of musical activity, but it’s a clever back story as it allows him to let his imagination run riot – something he couldn’t exactly be accused of shirking on past records.
Vibrant cross rhythms add to the vocoded singing, while the famous six string bass makes an appearance. The frantic rushes of sound are often thrilling, like riding on a fast train as the scenery rushes by.
There is the occasional pause for thought, mostly in the album’s coda, as if the rock band have left and Jenkinson only remains. At this point it should be reaffirmed it’s only he that plays on the album, scoping out the textures with incredible eye for detail.
On headphones the sheer brightness of sound and rapid unfolding of events can all be a bit too much, and at times I was even reminded of the music accompanying a chase scene in a Steve Martin sound. At which point the realisation dawns – could Jenkinson even be The Man With Two Brains? It’s possible, on Just A Souvenir contains more music than you might expect from two separate albums, and it’s a thrilling if occasionally saturating listen. Just don’t listen to it before bed, or you’ll never sleep.