- Audio CD (14 May 2012)
- Number of Discs: 1
- Label: Warp
- ASIN: B007OA0XGU
- Other Editions: Audio CD | Vinyl | MP3 Download
- Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 120,070 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)
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CD Includes 12 page booklet
Through 14 albums and numerous singles and EPs, Essex boy Tom Jenkinson has endeavoured to make electronic music do things it isn’t supposed to. A virtuoso on bass guitar as well as analogue and digital machinery, his Squarepusher alter ego has consistently brought a freewheeling jazz mentality, a sense of humour and a jaw-dropping technique to that part of the techno world which is aimed at the bedroom and headphones rather than the dancefloor.
Jenkinson’s latest opus sees him return to a solo format after 2010’s so-so Shobaleader One experiment with a band format, and is designed to fit with a new live show involving a space-age helmet and much flashing, strobey, abstract imagery. Clips on YouTube suggest that the show is very reminiscent of Orbital at their stadium rave peak. Which is convenient, because this set sounds like Orbital with a severe case of St Vitus Dance.
Fans who especially love Jenkinson’s astonishing, thumb-plunking bass-playing and droll vocal tracks like My Red Hot Car and The Coathanger will be disappointed. Ufabulum is all synth instrumentals all of the time and, unlike previous albums, doesn’t feature a standout classic that draws you into the album’s less accessible elements. From the fidgety glitch of opener 4001 onwards, the mood is that of an ominous soundtrack for an unmade sci-fi movie.
The Metallurgist may revisit the murky junglism of Squarepusher’s early years, while Red in Blue’s beat-less atmospherics resemble the 70s electro-classicism of Wendy Carlos and Isao Tomita. But the mood is similarly dark, relentless and deliberately irritating to those who like their music with at least a little groove and melody. A few surprisingly wishy-washy string-synths aside, it is, as always, hugely impressive – particularly on the steely car engine cut-ups of Dark Steering and 303 Scopem Hard, which sound like they’re auditioning for heavy usage with Formula 1 coverage – but disappointingly cold and forbidding.
One thing you can always count on with Jenkinson, though, is that whatever he does next will sound little like whatever he did last. Here’s hoping he relocates his bass and his sense of humour next time around.
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Top Customer Reviews
The new album is a refreshing departure from recent explorations. It's far more electronic sounding, the most all-out electronic Squarepusher album since Selection Sixteen, which is arguably his most solid album to my ears after Music Is One Rotted Note. It's not super-challenging like Ultravisitor, nor is it OTT and grating like Go Plastic. It's also really upbeat! Especially the first half of the record, tunes are downright happy, and although I like when Squarepusher is moody and dark and experimental, he knows how to make really joyful and happy music too. But don't worry for there is a little darkness and experimentation on here too, Drax 2 being a good example of that, and arguably the best song on the record. There are other great standout tunes like the album's opener 4001, the acid madness of Scopem Hard 303, or the amazing soundtrack to some non-existent videogame in Stadium Ice. Dark Steering needs a mention too, a mish-mash of race-car engine sounds, the roland 303, and SP's crazy timing.
So Squarepusher fans, if you really dug his previous two records then you might not like this one so much. If you like his more electonic-sounding stuff, and especially if you're into the 303, you will like this album.Read more ›
This may or may not be the case with "Ufabulum".
In my opinion, Tom Jenkinson is too clever for his own good sometimes. On this occasion, this sounding-a-bit-like-Daft-Punk-on-the-first-five-tracks business may be part of his cunning plan. Or it may not. As it happens I don't care, because this is perhaps Jenkinson's best LP ever. Unlike some of his other records it is, intentionally or not, a take it as you find it release (i.e. there's little in the way of irony).
"Ufabulum" is, as some previous reviewers have noted, an album of two halves - the first half being Squarepusher's surprising apparent new Judge Jules-friendly (well maybe not that friendly) direction and the second being more recognisably 'pusher in his original (Aphex-influencing?) form, with the (brilliant) final track "Ecstatic Shock" tying the two themes together. Either side of the divide, this is a CD (if you play it enough) whose melodies you will find replaying in the jukebox in your head at odd moments in the day (in my case, "Stadium Ice" on a Tuesday morning visit to the office vending machine).
When Squarepusher's on (clean, crisp, electronic) form, there's nobody to beat him. If you don't know Squarepusher then why not start here?
The first track feels very much like it's designed to be euphoric and uplifting, but it fails to strike any sort of a chord with me. The next 2 or 3 songs follow similar suit with soaring synth parts and catchy (annoying) melodies. All of these songs get a similar sort of review from me, the first half of the album honestly sounds like a cross between a soundtrack to the worst Sega Saturn Game you can imagine and the kind of background music you hear when the league tables appear on Eurosport's coverage of the bobsleigh. And I cant stress that enough. Even though there are enjoyable moments hidden in there, I always get those sort of images in my head. I was very much surprised to hear the track 'Unreal Square' make an appearance during the BBC's coverage of the Olympics last year... so I can only imagine a couple of their producers had a similar feeling towards those tracks that I did. It almost feels like those songs were designed for that specifically, which makes for a rather offputting listen as an album.
'Red In Blue' acts as a sort of quiet before the storm and a significant turning point. All remaining tracks feel somewhat darker, noisier, more atmospheric, more energetic, chaotic... It's like an entirely different album altogether. Some of it could be described as an uneasy listen, but in a way that feels way more exciting and uplifting than anything the first half had to offer. Definitely 'edge of your seat' music, and each remaining track has an entirely different way off getting that across.Read more ›
This, on the other hand, comes out of the gate with some serious pace, and holds its own right through to the last track. The constant shifting soundscapes are still there but bent to service actual melodies and coherently structured music. Listening to the entire album in one sitting can get a bit wearing if you're not quite in the right frame of mind for it - it is harsh and relentless, but musical enough to pull it of this time, and I find myself returning to tracks like the phenomenal Dark Steering again and again and again. Highly recommended.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
very good, especially scopem hard... only dropped 1 star because nothing can be as good as Hard Normal Daddy. Buy.Published on 4 Dec. 2013 by MixingIt
Sound design of the highest degree, plus you can dance and hum along. This almost goes far enough, it never does not enough, rip up a frequency or two more or less and we might... Read morePublished on 28 Nov. 2013 by A W W
Man, this one grows on you. Same feeling I had when I first heard Aphex Twin - an initial "WTF?" gives way to your brain finally hearing the complex rhythms, hihats from... Read morePublished on 17 July 2013 by Basexperience
After being guttingly dissapointed by the Shobaleader One project, I was prepared for the worst so this album came as a very pleasant surprise. Read morePublished on 12 April 2013 by stax
Good album, but Amazon quality of audio is poor. Tempted to go get it from "elsewhere" (Even though I paid for it) as it really isn't good enough.Published on 10 July 2012 by Michael Gerrard
I am a big fan of Squarepusher and for me the top albums where Just Souvenir, Hello Everything. Recent Number Lucent was very cool too. Read morePublished on 18 Jun. 2012 by rad88
This review relates to the VINYL edition.
True, its in a nice box, although unessicary, and a book thing and a CD E.P.
BUT - It sounds horrible. Read more