Album Review: Music for Robots [EP] by Squarepusher
Acceptable, Based on 6 Critics
PopMatters - 90 Based on rating 9/10
Tom ‘Squarepusher’ Jenkinson makes some of the most breathtaking, emotive electronic music ever recorded and/or performed. This should not be news, as he has been blowing my mind since at least 1995’s Feed Me Weird Things and has not really released anything remotely mediocre since that time. Aphex Twin and Boards of Canada seem to receive more glory, and I do not mean to diminish their accomplishments, but for my money, Squarepusher reigns supreme within the Warp Records pantheon.
Tom Jenkinson’s work as Squarepusher lacks any real center, instead firing off in multiple directions to dizzying effect. His best tracks are vibrant in their nutty, wild-eyed ways, such as Go Plastic's ultra-precise “My Red Hot Car”, or when they sound like a refined version of his rubbery, bass-driven puzzles (Just a Souvenir's “The Coathanger”). Sometimes, his work seems designed to provoke fatigue, with the sheer density of sound violently throwing up multiple barriers to entry, to the point where his listeners are left skirting on an infinite loop somewhere outside the process.
Electronic madman Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, has always dealt in futuristic sounds. Whether crafting some of the more frantic drum-n-bass rhythms ever put to tape or sewing together rubbery basslines and multi-colored electronic textures into his own breed of short-attention-span funk, there's always been something superhuman about his music. Music for Robots takes the superhuman/non-human element of Squarepusher's sound to both its logical and literal conclusion, offering up five tracks composed by Jenkinson and performed completely by robots.
Of all the glitchy, future-thinking mathnauts on the Warp roster, Tom Jenkinsion, a.k.a. Squarepusher, has always seemed the most coldly analytical of the bunch. While labelmates like Aphex Twin were busily building exhilaratingly terrifying soundscapes that sounded like bonesaws gone rogue and fax machines being tossed down metal stairs, Squarepusher was grounding his madness in music theory.
Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, has always been caught between his gifted touch as a composer and his compulsion for spectacle. The former leads to the vast swathes of essential Squarepusher found on Feed Me Weird Things and Selection Sixteen—melodic, virtuosic drum and bass that work like aural science fiction movies. The latter leads to things like indulgent hour-long bass solos and this record with Z Machines, a music-performing system composed of three robots, "beyond the capabilities of even the most advanced musicians," according to the press release.
Review Summary: Tom Jenkinson either doesn't get it, or doesn't care.Tom Jenkinson has never been consistent at anything, really. Everything he’s managed to put out under the Squarepusher moniker has been a spastic mix of sometimes good, sometimes great, and sometimes extremely annoying. Not annoying in the dicking around, tongue-in-cheek ironic way that Richard D.