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Go Plastic

Go Plastic
(Warp Records)

It seems that I've always been a couple steps behind Tom Jenkinson. A couple years ago, the problem was simply that he was too darn prolific and I didn't have enough money to buy everything as it came out. Over the course of the past two years or so, though, there has been another thing holding me back, though, and that reason is because he's been so darn inconsistent. Although I'm one of those people who still thinks that Hard Normal Daddy is his best release to date, I also liked what he did on Music Is Rotted One Note. The problem is that since then, it seems like he hasn't been able to find a middle ground.

Between that last true full-length disc and this one, he struck time and time again with EP's, and while at moments he displayed brilliance among them, there were always points on the releases where I felt like I was getting b-sides instead of the full-on that I was used to. The somewhat strange thing about Go Plastic is that instead of feeling like a progression from the work that he's done over the past couple years, it feels more like the logical progression of tracks from his even older Big Loada release. While that might not be a bad thing in and of itself, it makes the album sound a bit dated by Squarepusher standards.

One thing that the album isn't lacking is absolutely nutters percussion. While there are exceptions, the majority of this release is comprised of tracks that rip frantic breakbeats apart and put them back together again, sometimes leading in completely abstract directions. "Greenways Trajectory" and "Go! Spastic" both shred beats for over 6 minutes each, spitting out frantic rhythms and not doing much else, lurching around so frantically that it makes your head spin. On other tracks like "Boneville Occident" and "I Wish You Could Talk," Jenkinson adds the skittering beats to a more structured format, creating tracks that are oddly familiar yet still very nice.

The best tracks on the disc are the ones that take slightly different routes and feel like the Jenkinson that pushes the boundaries of music. Both "The Exploding Psychology" and "My Fucking Sound" start out amazingly (the former with a silly, stutter stepping beat and the latter with haunting gong sounds) before heading back into drill and bass workouts while "Tommib" is all too short with its pretty synth melodies. Opening with the already reviewed "Red Hot Car" and closing with the dark, rumbling "Plainstow Flex Out," the album has solid tracks that bookend the disc, yet somehow don't quite connected.

So, in a year of inconsistent albums by big name artists (Aphex Twin's Drukqs, The Orb's Cydonia, and Orbital's The Altogether), Squarepusher has put something out that isn't horrible by any means, but just leaves me wanting something a little more progressive (given his past efforts in upping the ante). Even his amazing bass playing doesn't really make much of an appearence on the release, unless buried by effects so much that you can't even tell what it is. Perhaps the varying styles on the disc still mark a transitional period in which lots of different sounds are being thrown out and being tried. If his already-released one-track single is any sign of things to come, though, he's hardly lost his touch. I'll chalk this one up as a slight mis-step.

Rating: 6.5