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Techno with jazzy overtones

By Erik Blankinship

SquarePusher’s sound is techno music without any of the electronic beeps the genre is known for. SquarePusher has more of a jazz sound, with sampled audio instruments and relentless percussion. Beats are strung so close together and rhythms come so furiously that most songs sound like they are on the brink of collapse.

But SquarePusher is always distinguishable as music. And quite good music, too.

SquarePusher hails from Sheffield, England, and has a raw sound to it, unlike most of the techno coming out of London. Nothing here sounds slick and studio produced. The beats are never perfectly lined up and never danceable. This is music which throws itself around with violent force and picks itself back up again carefully, note by note, before the next crash.

Square Pusher’s newest EP, Maximum Priest, begins with an ambient track, “Song: Our Underwater Torch.” The track title describes the sound quite well, which is a change from the names of most SquarePusher tracks, which bear absolutely no resemblance to the songs: “Anirog,” “Rustic Raver,” “Cranium Oxide.” In this track, we are taken deep underground to hear dripping water echoing in what sounds like a dank cavern. The ambience lasts for only a few minutes before truly nightmarish sounds begin.

What sounds like a distressed World War II military radio begins the album proper in the second track, “Decathalon Oxide.” Lost voices calling out from far away through squelching static are broken up into syncopated chaos. This is howling and chilling music, music that sounds like it belongs in the dark future world of Blade Runner on Halloween night.

SquarePusher is 23 year old Tom Jenkinson, who doesn’t bother with any of the usual “my influences are” quotes. He states that with his music “I’m just trying to shout myself out of the mediocrity that surrounds us all. You have to, when a bit of plastic’s all that represents you in the world.”