Squarepusher // Damogen Furies
Squarepusher is one of electronic music's most widely recognized innovators, with a profile as celebrated as Aphex Twin, Autechre, Boards of Canada, or any of his other legendary big-name peers. Though Tom Jenkinson (the mind behind Squarepusher's oeuvre) seemed to arrive with a fully formed signature sound with the icy jungle-informed compositions of his 1996 debut Feed Me Weird Things, he applied his masterful sonic personality to a wide variety of applications as his career moved forward, branching in directions as widely variant as mellow acid jazz, solo funk bass recordings, ambient dub, and even humanly impossible compositional scores played by robots. Damogen Furies finds Jenkinson turning away from his more nuanced or minimally funky material and offering up an album of completely blown-out tones. Nearly everything on the album's eight songs sounds coated in distortion and chaos, though still distinctively Squarepusher at the core. Garbled beats and fuzzy synth tones take the form of highly compositional MIDI-prog on the dizzying "Kontenjaz" and a melodramatic electro-throwback horror movie score on "Baltang Arg." The closest the album comes to pop is a winking mangling of synth pop with opening track "Stor Eiglass," an Aphex Twin-esque slab of IDM that melts into an upbeat melody that sounds borrowed from the Cure and strapped into a getaway car fleeing a bank robbery at 120 mph. This re-appropriation may be a songwriting accident or a knowing move on Jenkinson's part, especially as the song's rhythm deteriorates into madness before coming back together. The album is full of moments that seem designed to confuse, as Jenkinson's flair for healthy doses of nonsense is matched only by his passion for hyperactive musical feats of brilliance. With Damogen Furies, the results of his strange ways lead to moments of slack-jawed befuddlement as much as awestruck astonishment.