Squarepusher - Music Is Rotted One Note
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Squarepusher
Music Is Rotted One Note

After hearing Squarepusher's Hard Normal Daddy and Feed Me Weird Things (Yes, I purchased them out of order), I was completely hooked. There was something about his maniac snare rushes, light melodies and overall inventive sound that quite simply blew my mind. I'd never heard anything quite like it and when Big Loada came out, it knocked my socks off as well.

When the first reports started coming back about Music Is Rotted One Note, they were calling it a departure from his trademark sound and many people were actually kind of torqued off about it. They didn't like the new style and couldn't understand what the deal was. Of course, I hadn't heard the disc at that point, but I was already wondering why in the world he would go and change things just as they were really starting to kick my booty. When I heard the album, I understood what the fuss was about. Instead of using drum machines and whatnot, it seems that Sir Tom (he's not really a Sir yet, I just like saying that) felt the need to play all the instruments he used on the album honest to goodness. While the music took awhile to actually grow on me, I had to give the guy some serious credit for at least trying something different. Instead of crazy schizo beats (although a lot of the songs still have very interesting rhythm sections), the disc falls into more of a lounge, jazz fusion sort of deal with several tracks of ambient noodle filler.

After a bit of live chatting and laughing on the first track "Chunks," things come out of the gate with some fuzzed-out effects, a signature squiggly bassline, and some cheesy keyboards. Jenkinson has always been quite the bass player, but one thing that his past albums unfortunately did was manage to somewhat hide that ability while this new release showcases it (it also sounds like he's not too bad on the drum set, either). After settling down a bit and peeling out at the end, things fade right into the second track "Don't Go Plastic." It's more of the same instrument sounds in a different combination for it and even the next track before things completely lull off for the fourth track entitled "Curve 1." In it, all the aforementioned instruments drop out and instead the track bounces around in an strange little swirls of feedback and what sounds like insect chatter. Things pick up on the fifth track again with a rather frenetic drum session and some really warped bass sounds. From there, he goes right back into a couple more experimental tracks before dropping the laid-back "My Sound." Sounding more like something you'd expect to hear off a Ninja Tune record, the track is a nice, yet strange inclusion on the disc given the aural stylings of past recordings.

From there out, the disc goes through sort of the same routine, in several different variations. There are a couple slick jazz breakbeat numbers, but scattered in between them are shorter tracks where Jenkinson goes a bit wacky with the machines and crosses into more experimental territory. Being the first record of a newer style, it doesn't unfortunately always work. While I have to commend him on playing more of the instruments instead of just programming beats, the arrangements just aren't as inventive on this disc as they have been in the past. Not only that, but the more experimental pieces that fill in the spaces are somewhat hit or miss. Some of them fall into a very foreboding territory, while others are more silly sounding. While it's definitely a departure for Squarepusher work, it's also a bit of a strange listen to have the different styles bouncing off one another. It's still an interesting release, and one that you need to have if you're a Squarepusher fan, but don't expect the same.

rating: 7.510
Aaron Coleman 2003-06-19 00:00:00