At 40, Squarepusher – the primary pseudonym worn by English MIDI miscreant Tom Jenkinson – is old enough to be the father of many of the younger producers currently working within the genre and countless subgenres of electronica he’s helped to pioneer. On his latest LP Damogen Furies, Jenkinson is showing his age in a good way. As much as he has matured physically over the years, Damogen Furies reveals he has also been maturing musically.
Many of the tracks on Damogen Furies have a poppy aura radiating from them. For longtime Squarepusher fans this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Over the years Jenkinson has often cited the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds as a major influence. In interviews Jenkinson often brings up the Pet Sounds liner notes, in which Brian Wilson states that he wants to make melodies that make the listener “feel loved.” And there are plenty of moments on Damogen Furies where one does feel that melodious love which Jenkinson is trying to get across. Take the opening track, “Stor Eiglass” which for all its erratic intensity employs a wide array of happy and upbeat tones.
These melodies shine even brighter later on the intense club-thumper “Kontenjaz.” In its intricate synth layers, one can begin to see the influence Jenkinson has spoken of. But the pop doesn’t stop here, instead it finds its way into “Exjag Nives” with its outburst of bright synths and singled-out sequenced beats that zig and zag with a head-jolting fury. The same could be said for the EDM festival circuit-ready “Baltang Arg,”on which Jenkinson builds up intense beats in large layers, then lets them drop and smash as he quickly moves into making waves of intense footloose beats to follow up with.
Jenkinson hasn’t ever been one to stray from what he does best though, which is to deliver crisp and precise rhythms via his signature breakbeat drum machine style. These breakbeats are the foundation of so many Squarepusher classics, from the beginnings, including 97’s Hard Normal Daddy. These breakbeats are now so distinctly his own, so synonymous with his sound, that no one else can use them without looking like an impersonator. And yet these beats, as old now as they are, continue to work seemingly for Jenkinson alone, often acting as receptors to his samples, which hit with a velocity unmatched by any other producer working within the genre today. Even though Jenkinson is pushing 40, Damogen Furies shows that Jenkinson still has what it takes to keep on pushing on.