Squarepusher

Go Plastic (Warp)

Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) never leaves you alone with his music. He's always there in your living room, letting you hook into a groove just long enough to orient yourself to it, then cutting it into 1,000 pieces (or the closest number to 1,000 that is divisible by 4). A track will start off speciously down-tempo before the spaces between the drum hits are filled with all manner of hyperactive breaks. Go Plastic is, in a sense, much longer than its 48-or-so minutes, when you consider the level of resolution at which the songs are rendered. It's as if he's trying to prove that an eternity exists between the "boom" and the "chak."

The lead track, "My Red Hot Car," is a brazenly pleasing little thing. Similar to Aphex Twin's "Milkman" in its depravity but somewhat less depraved and hugely more enjoyable, it's a pure pop tune that just happens to be intelligent, fierce, funky and funny as well. A slightly mangled vocal track sings something about a car, but the singer might be saying something else. It's probably foolhardy to attach too much significance to the titles of electronic tunes; numbers would be just as illuminating. But Jenkinson's titles may be the exception. It's hard to deny that the sixth track, with its unvarying repetition; detuned, plaintive hornlike synth accents; and melancholy church-organ theme is made weightier by its title, "Wish You Could Talk."

There are other moments of harmonic depth on the record, most notably in "The Exploding Psychology," wherein a thin synth plays a mock-Turkish tune, and "My Fucking Sound," in which an offhand sequence of notes sort of sneaks into all the bombast. But for the most part, the arrangements are decidedly two-dimensional. One part does not play off or against or even with another part but follows it, ends and is followed by another, much like the people in the two-dimensional universe who must climb over each other when they pass each other on the sidewalk because they can't exist side by side. Go Plastic is an obsessively crafted, intricate record, and it rewards a close listen. The less-than-fully-attentive listener may feel slightly annoyed.

 
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