Movements in My Musical Life: Squarepusher
11 Mar 2012 - Nic Ho Chee
It might be valid to say that I spent a great deal of my teens and twenties obsessed with music. During this time I’ve had the great fortune to fall into discoveries that formatted my brain to make it a much more interesting engine than perhaps it would have been without the exposure.
There was something alien about music growing up which turned it into a puzzle I had to solve (I had an idea as a teen of using a computer to automatically generate Stock-Aitken and Waterman singles, without the wherewithal to accomplish it, which in hindsight is probably a good thing…) My dad brought one of these bad boys, the Music 5000 system for the BBC Model B, home from work, and at the time it was like seeing the future delivered on a golden chariot to your front door. One of the great regrets of my life was not being able to really play with it to record anything, I was too young at the time to even begin to understand what could be done with it. Years later my degree choice was to some extent a sublimated desire to recreate something I’d encountered as a child, and drove me to a lifetime of interfacing with machines to pull some meaningful output from the experience.
In the process of trying to find music which was a good mental fit for the life changing experience of seeing my first synthesizer I’d already encountered Detroit Techno, Aphex Twin and Kraftwerk (but hadn’t yet heard Autechre which caused another phase shift) and was kicking about at University. A couple of friends were going to a Sunday music thing called Homebass and suggested I popped in to check it out. One of them gave me a flyer, and I looked at it with its Felix the Kat logo, and said “I’m not really into hippy music…” After being informed that it was unlikely that Squarepusher could ever be described as “hippy music” and that I’d definitely enjoy it, I made my way down. Turning up at the night was like a swift psychic kick to the face, Squarepusher was playing crazed slap bass over distorted drum beats in a room barely bigger than someone’s bedroom and suddenly it was like seeing the Music 5000 all over again. I vaguely remember stumbling up to him at some point and saying something about it sounding like Goldie as that was the only point of reference I could squeeze from my addled brain at that time.
Over the next 10+ years I devoured his output and religiously picked up everything I could lay my fingers on. These were the days before you could download someone’s entire back catalogue in a matter of moments, so I ended up adding his stuff to a list of what I was trying to source in one of my record dives. I managed to find a vinyl copy of Feed Me Weird Things in Southend and rolled on from there to EPs like Port Rhombus and Conumber with tracks like Vic Acid and Iambic 5 Poetry slapping me up whenever I needed some new music to chew over.
I managed to catch him at Mike Patton’s All Tomorrow’s Parties in 2008 and was again impressed, but was left a little perplexed by Just A Souvenir and Shobaleader One when I listened to it at home. It didn’t really have the same visceral effect on me as his earlier stuff and I’d written it off as me moving onto different things, when a few days ago there was a press release on the Warp Records site with a sound snippet from his new album Ufabulum which brought back the same brain wrenching feel as his earlier work.
To paraphrase @JoyrexJ9, <@JoyrexJ9>pleasedontbeshitpleasedontbeshit</@JoyrexJ9>.