Wednesday 29 September 2021

Bite-sized Bits 12

Karl Benjamin - Black & Gray Curves with Purple (1960)

I don't think I can overstate how much I appreciate Warp's appearance on Bandcamp. Of course there's a bit of bias there as my love for the label is well documented over the past decade and a bit - but it's made pulling up stuff to talk about that much easier, from the relatively obscure to the slightly overlooked, to things I just plain haven't managed to mention over the years there is plenty of material to talk about.

Enter the Port Rhombus EP - Squarepusher's first release on Warp after a couple of EPs under other aliases and the stellar Feed Me Weird Things on Aphex's Rephlex label - decked out in that trademark Warp Purple and sporting an unassuming cover you could be forgiven for overlooking it. But my oh my, what a debut it was, title track Port Rhombus wastes no time in getting into Squarepusher's unique brand of properly mangled Drum & Bass that he was making at the time. It's contrasted with these lovely delicate syths and some solitary twangs that get plenty of time to shine during a couple of extended breakdowns - I might not be as into the beat butchery as I was back when I was first discovering Warp's back-catalogue, but I must admit I do have a lot of love for this one for that, the backing behind the beats is just lovely.

Perhaps not the best starting point if you're looking to explore Squarepusher's work (I'd recommend Feed Me Weird Things or the Big Loada EP for that - though interestingly the Port Rhombus EP was included as bonus tracks on the USA version of Big Loada) but a quality bit of 'pusher nonetheless. Not to mention an interesting bit of history too, it's odd to imagine a time where Squarepusher wasn't one of Warp's mainstays after all. He's adopted a lot of different genres over the years, but for many this kind of wild D&B will always be that quintessential Squarepusher sound.

The rest of the EP is pretty great as well, though the title track does absolutely steal the show - Problem Child sees a return to Feed Me Weird Things style jazzy breaks ran through a blender with Squarepusher's bass noodling over the top of it, give it a look! And that'll be all for this time, I'll be back tomorrow with another Bite-sized bit - until then, as always, stay safe and enjoy the music.


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