High Energy Jazz Grooves
On Elektrac, Shobaleader One come together to deliver an hour-long jam session made up of eleven Squarepusher classic records played live. Shobaleader One are a band that was first formed by Squarepusher in 2010 for his album Shobaleader One: d’Demonstrator. They are made up of Squarepusher on bass, Strobe Nazard on keyboard, Company Laser on drums and Arg Nution on guitar. Shobaleader One display great technique and chemistry with their playing on this project, but stringing together Squarepusher classics does not work in the context of creating an original full length album.
The album starts off wonderfully with the first track “The Swifty.” The listener is introduced to Shobaleader One’s fast-paced, precise drumming and their funky bass guitar melodies. The song is paced wonderfully and shows each member of Shobaleader One’s talents, as it shifts focus from instrument to instrument. It also leads perfectly into the next song, “Coopers World.” “Squarepusher Theme” is another strong song because of its catchy melody, which drives the whole track forward. The project starts off great, but as the tracklist stretches on, Shobaleader One start to lose their momentum.
Although Shobaleader One have great instrumentation and technical skill, the content of Elektrac seems to get staler the farther one gets into the project. The second half is much less memorable than the first, and it is here where we start to realize that maybe not all Squarepusher tracks are begging for a rendition with live instrumentation. The skill that the band displays in rendering these songs is admirable, but some of them are just too dense to be enjoyable in this context. A prime example is the song “Deep Fried Pizza,” which high-pitched screeching guitars and frenzied drums that quickly become abrasive. Shobaleader One would be better off creating newer, original content that fits the composition of their band than trying to play old Squarepusher songs that may or may not be enjoyable to hear in this way.
Shobaleader One are a skilled band and they definitely have the talent to create something great. A good amount of the tracks on Elektrac are enjoyable grooves that show how good the band can be. However, half of the songs sound like they are just an exercise in precision and that the artists don’t have much of a connection to the music they are playing. Hopefully, Shobaleader One keep creating music and refining a sound that is all their own with their releases down the road.