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Tom Jenkinson a.k.a Squarepusher is back on the pure electronics tip. Now, I'll be the first to say that his output can be a bit patchy so - to some - this return to purest electronics will be welcomed with open arms. Personally I'm a big fan of his bass playing and love it when he mixes the two, as long as he avoids drifting into needlessly indulgent territory or going completely bonkers - as he did on his last couple of projects (Shobaleader One's 'Cryptic Motion' was tough work for me). The cool thing about 'Ufabulum' is the video-synthesiser thing. At this juncture he's fucking about with a musical/visual correlation that sees imagery produced both as a background and on the helmet he's currently wearing when he performs. If you've seen the recent video for 'Dark Steering' online you'll know what I'm talking about. It looks totes fucking TRONRAD.
As for the music here - he's kinda on a redux tip, taking what we already know about his style with a new focus on melody and, what sounds like, a lot of hands-on synth performance stuff. Obviously old techniques rear their head, you've got the old school skitterish beats, the playful yet aggressive breakdowns, the warm bass tones and the air of general epicness - but now it's kinda settling down a bit. Melodies, electronic soul and soundtrack styles seem to be the preoccupations on 'Ufabulum' which, for me, makes for his best record since 'Ultravisitor'. Opener '4001' is very much reminiscent of 'Dark Steering' (not included here) and a blazer of an introduction to 'Ufabulum' but it's on tracks like 'Ice Stadium' where new, exciting sounds begin to emerge. He's not shy here - we're talking beautiful melodies and a inventive cross pollination between modern dance production techniques and progressive rock songwriting. It's daft but awesome. Plenty more to tuck into here but for now I need to move on. Always more shit to do. Hard to say if this is a return to form without a full play but so far, so good.
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