Written by Maria Arroyo
After a 5-year hiatus, Squarepusher, also known as Tom Jenkinson, returns with a new album, Be Up A Hello, via Warp Records on January 31.
The opening track of the record, “Oberlove,” sets the tone for the rest of the album. There was tremendous consideration to use a vast range of frequencies and sound effects on this track. There were also clearly some strong futuristic vibes that showed in his rhythmic style and the ambient piano effects.
“Hitsonu” upped the energy with many contrasting musical sections throughout the song that kept things refreshing and far from one dimensional. It felt like Mario Kart meets electronic music in the best possible way! Personally, it’s always harder for me to listen to instrumental tracks as a vocalist since 90% of my attention is focused on the vocals, but they kept me in their world even without a vocal presence.
The next track, “Nervelevers”, has huge energy, so if you need motivation music, this is your go-to! The song, “Speedcrank,” continued with that same modern video game-inspired sound with a mix of synthesizers and ambient piano playing that made for a nice touch.
On “Detroit People Mover,” the track kept up the energy and intensity alive, but with a smoother approach. There was a lot more buildup of instrumentation than in other songs, which is always a plus for me.
The song, “Vortrack,” had a more robotic feel with many shorter sound effects, so sometimes it felt like you were constantly listening for a new sound, and so keeping up with it proved to be a challenge. It felt like there was no stream of consciousness to flow from the beginning to the end. The idea was a risky one, but it needed a clearer-end goal. The same can be said for “Terminal Slam” as it did not transition well throughout and the short-lived sound effects reminded me of when the T.V. changed to a channel that you don’t have service for.
“Mekrev Bass” was the longest song of the album. There were some nice differences between the sections, but after a while, they blended together. The song was also a bit long for my taste, and with it being completely instrumental, I would suggest either cutting the sections to be a little shorter or maybe even throwing in some soft vocals for some more color and texture.
Closing the album was the track “80 Ondula.” This one was a personal favorite because it kept true to his sound and aesthetic while introducing some different parts throughout his music. This song contained a more spacious and open feel to it, which mimicked the suspense before a jump scare in a horror movie. It had such an intense and ominous feeling. It was definitely the way to close out a solid album!
Squarepusher definitely has his sound down pat and really knows the direction that he wants to take his music in. I really admired the change of a full-length instrumental album; however, the longer songs are a little difficult to connect with. His sound is best described as electronic with innovative and cutting-edge elements that were most definitely worth listening to. Although it’s not my go-to style of music, I am more than pleased that I could be exposed to it and extremely hopeful for his musical future.