Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Intersection: Squarepusher

The Intersection looks at artists that blend jazz with electronica (a tradition pioneered by none other than Miles Davis on such classic recordings as On the Corner). This week's focus is Squarepusher.

Over the course of nine albums since 1996, Tom Jenkinson aka Squarepusher has hacked the electronica subgenre of drum 'n' bass by cross-wiring it with jazz fusion. As the son of a jazz musician and a talented bass guitar player in his own right (not to mention a multi-instrumentalist), Jenkinson has demonstrated -- perhaps more than any other d'n'b proponent -- how to marry jazz concepts with electronic technology.

Following his impressive debut, Feed Me Weird Things, Squarepusher moved to the head of the d'n'b class with the back-to-back juggernauts of Hard Normal Daddy and Music is Rotted One Note. Over the course of the next several albums, such as Go Plastic and Ultravisitor, Jenkinson continued to experiment with the form, pushing the envelope with increasingly jazz-influenced compositions.

Legend has it that Jenkinson was weaned on the music of Miles Davis, Art Blakey, Charlie Parker and other jazz greats. The jazz influence manifests itself in Squarepusher through the use of complex chord progressions, the influence of bop-influenced drum breaks and Jenkinson's fluid fusion-influenced bass guitar work. D'n'B is an intrinsically complex form of electronic music thanks to the rapid-fire drum programming, but Jenkinson's traditional mastery of the form's basic elements have enabled him to stretch the boundaries of the genre.

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