Continuing down the road that he started on with his last full length album entitled Music Is Rotted One Note, Squarepusher has again for the most part ditched his wack-ass drum machine beats for more of a fusion sound. Again, he's playing all the instruments (from drums to bass to many indecipherable ones), and again he's gone the more experimental route for the most part, including one or two tracks that I would have never guessed were by him if I'd heard them outside the context of the album.
The disc starts out with a track called "Iambic 5 Poetry" and I'm not afraid to say that it's probably not only the best ambient track that I've ever heard by Squarepusher, but probably one of the best ones I've heard in quite some time. It starts out with some light, reverbed drumming and vague hints that some distortion might kick in, but it never does. Instead, the listener is treated a simple little chiming melody that floats it's way over everything and right into your head. I found myself whistling along with it and slowly weaving my head as Jenkinson offset it with a bit of subdued bass playing. After the nearly completely organic sound of the first track, the snappy little hi-hats and the electronic glurg of "Fly Street" stand in quite a bit of contrast. Even that track never really picks up in terms of BPM, though, and soon he's onto the very muted sounds of "The Tide." With lots of reverse effects and super-soft drums, it's another very quiet number.
After the very simplistic, almost freestyle sounds of "Splask," things pick up again a little bit with "Two Bass Hit (Dub)." As the title suggests, the bass guitar is the key instrument here, and Jenkinson plays the dueling parts along with some little squirting electronic sounds to good effect. "Varkatope" sounds most like the Squarepusher of old with a weird, super-tweaked-out synth squiggle and some live drumming mixed in with machine before the unusual album closer of "Gong Acid." The reason I call it unusual is because the all-percussion track sounds like someone going crazy on windchimes, a vibraphone, and a gong at the same time. It works, but barely.
Again, whether or not you like the album depends on whether you can get into the sound that Squarepusher started playing with on Music Is Rotted One Note. Overall, it still sounds like he's kind of playing around and trying to discover exactly what direction he wants to go with things, but when he hits on all cylinders (as on "Iambic 5 Poetry"), it makes it all worth it. A varied affair.