Wednesday 20 June 2012

A Very Warped History 15: 2008 (1 Of 2)

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We're back on the final stretch now. As I've said before opinions get more and more divided as we move closer to the modern era, but as always I'll just call it as I sees it. This time it's Squarepusher again with the follow up to the pretty damn sweet Hello Everything. As you may already know from previous Warped entries and my Shobaleader One review, this is far from the Square man's original material, which I didn't include in this series just because I didn't own the albums/EPs. I might go back and give 'em an overview when this is done but for now: Just A Souvenir

Right off the bat you'll notice this feels a bit looser than Hello Everything, and is an evolution on the framework set down by the bonus tracks on Hello Everything, Hanningfield Window and Exciton. It's not too shocking if you listen to the albums sequentially, but I imagine it would be quite jarring to jump from Come On My Selector to the much more jazzy tones of this LP.

Just A Souvenir also has a certain degree of humour to it, especially on these vocoded tracks. Now, I've already posted A Real Woman, so this is all that's left. Both tracks have flourishes and sections that make them actually decent despite their slightly strange premises, though I feel this track doesn't have as many standout moments as A Real Woman, but it's early doors and there's more quality to come, so I'll let it slide.

There's a pretty steady rhythm of jazzy interludes and typical Hello Everything era Squarepusher experimentation. The latter are by far the standout here, and this is their first formal introduction. The thundering guitar takes center stage here, and the combination of it with the actual percussion running alongside it leads to a strange outcome. There's no crazy drum rolls or rushes, and the guitars aren't tinkered with as much as on Hello Everything. This has no elements that are trademark Squarepusher, but you can still tell it's Mr. Jenkinson behind the production.

The balance is restored once again with a jazzy interlude. Unfortunately on this album they never really exceed 3 minutes, which is a shame because then they pale in comparison to their speedier tempo-ed brethren which can be anywhere from 4 to 7 minutes a piece. They aren't bad, they're just not especially memorable thaks to their shortness

But its not long before normal programming resumes and everything gets real loud and real fast. I really like the juxtaposition of the dreamy synths and the grinding guitar riffs that is featured on a lot of these tracks, unfortunately there's not a lot to say about them until 'pusher changes it up a bit later. Once again, not bad but there's nothing much to say that I haven't already.

Here's where things get a little bit more interesting and that's a good thing. After the formula laid down by the first two uptempo bits from this LP, the Square man carefully avoids stagnating with one of my favourites that grabs you from the get go. Tensor In Green shares sounds with the other two, but fiddles with the tempo a whole bunch, there are breakdowns, fakeout breakdowns and resurgences up and down this one, all leading up to that glorious face melting climax starting at around 2:50

I have two minds about this track, I properly love the juxtaposed sounds a bit like those on Rotate Electrolyte from Hello Everything, I love the breaks and whatnot that were introduced in the last track. I really, really love the peak when it all comes together a 1:10. Problem is unlike Rotate Electrolyte where the track teases you with that peak, but then plays it out for the rest of the song, this one gives you the peak pretty much straight away and then leaves you wanting it back. This wouldn't be a problem mind, if it wasn't so bloody long! more than a minute is spent on a fadeout that just drags its heels Regardless, it's well worth the price of admission for that part, because it does come back eventually, in brilliant form.

As we pull in the final stops, there's nothing really that signifies an ending, other than the return of back to back interludes, I give it a pass this time though cos it had probably my favourite jazzy bit in there, which I'm gonna use now to play us out. Ending on an entirely different note from the first track is alright and all,but I wish there were a few more Star Time styled tracks on here.

And there you have it, the last Squarepusher album of this series! It's not bad, it's just... spaced oddly. Like you have these psuedo-jazz joints with vocoders and whatnot for the first four or five tracks and then they're gone. There's definitely less memorable material on here than Hello Everything but it makes sense from a sound evolution perspective (the openers are gold). The LP has its moments, they're just a bit all over the place in the tracklist.

A Member Of Society,
-Cladue Van Foxbat.

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