Squarepusher is the alias of renowned electronic/IDM artist Tom Jenkinson, known for his jazz fusion with electronica and bringing his bass guitar virtuosity into his live performances. “Ufabulum” is his 15th album release, and another change in relation to Squarepusher’s style in recent works.
First off, “Ufabulum” is a LOT different to the previous few albums he released, particularly the likes of “Shobaleader One: d’Demonstrator” and “Just A Souvenir”, which were inspired by daydreams Jenkinson had of a futuristic electronic “rock band”. This concept brought him to approaching a hybrid sound of Daft Punk and Black Moth Super Rainbow. “Ufabulum” however, seems to return to the earlier styles of his work, but with a sense of post-[something] refreshment. The energy is more vibrant and he even seems to be exploring further into new textures.
Unreal Square, for example, seems to have strong dubstep influences but his approach to the style feels fresh and different to what you might expect anything affiliated with the d-word. In the first half of the song, he keeps to a very slow and slick tempo, but then after a steady build-up with beats, the track bursts into drum’n’bass, yet keeping the same melody, sometimes twisting or snapping it into different directions.
Then tracks like The Metallurgist, are almost the opposite. Dark, brooding and screaming “no-nonsense”, almost reminiscent of the dark and faster moments of his contemporary Aphex Twin. Dark Steering is similar, but progresses through different levels of tempo and atmosphere, intertwining episodes of soft melodies and neck-snapping breakbeats.
Personally, the only faults with the album is that some sections might become too similar, and that it’s easy to lose track of when one track ends and another starts. Stadium Ice and Energy Wizard both seem to have a heavy 80’s synthwave vibe, the latter more noticeable with its trance-like atmosphere, and the two could probably be morphed into one track. This seems to be a case for a couple of the other tracks too, like 303 Scopem Hard and Ecstatic Shock.
Otherwise, “Ufabulum” is a good album in terms of its apocalyptic party feel. Its infectious melodies can lull you into a blissful nod, but can turn 180 and throw a flurry of sounds and breakbeats. Its all-round accessibility and addictiveness would be a great introduction to someone wanting to explore the world of Squarepusher. A definite for an an IDM or a long-time fan of Squarepusher.
Favourite tracks: Unreal Square, Dark Steering, Energy Wizard.