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Squarepusher: Solo Electric Bass 1

For 15 years, Tom Jenkinson has wowed with both his technical skill and his power to affect. At first, though, the IDM pioneer’s latest appears solely an exercise in technique. Solo Electric Bass 1 is 12 straight tracks of, well, solo electric bass. There are no storms of sequenced beats, no skewed keyboard melodies, no Vocoder-buzzed lyrics about sex and automobiles. There aren’t even the murky jazz arrangements of 1998’s totally analog Music Is Rotted One Note. All we get is the sound of a bass guitar and a concert audience at Paris’ Cite De La Musique in 2007. The main takeaway is that Jenkinson is an extremely accomplished player, able to glide from classical scales to abrasive funk riffing to sudden slaps that sound a lot like the uncorking of champagne bottles. It’s indulgent stuff, but with the application of headphones and close attention, snatches of songs emerge, equipped with moments of gentleness, terror, and beguiling complexity. The notes swarm with unbelievable speed, and surprisingly memorable tunes float out of the din: Essentially, Jenkinson is using an uncharacteristically small medium to express his usual big ideas.


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