London Shepherd’s Bush Empire

With his fifth release in two years, [B]Tom Jenkinson[/B] is a man with a lot to get out of his system, one that seems on the brink of collapsing into piles of blinking circuitry any minute...

It’s quite right that virulent ridicule should be aimed at bands who bleat that they only make music for themselves. The same kind of people who think watching Jill Dando on [I]Holiday [/I]actually constitutes travelling, they skip the context, history and reactive potential that music sparks and end up dull, and possibly dead.

When it comes to the world of avantronica, though, the same line suddenly becomes essential. Living in your head is the [I]Omen[/I]-style mark of the lunatic genius, the one who [I]can’t [/I]care what other people think because he’s locked up in his skull, bouncing off the walls.

With his fifth release in two years, Tom Jenkinson is a man with a lot to get out of his system, one that seems on the brink of collapsing into piles of blinking circuitry any minute. Leering out of the same cryogenic mists as his ‘friend’ Aphex Twin, Squarepusher also has another deadly weapon in his arsenal: jazz. Last year’s ‘Music Is Rotted One Note’ was a greenish, maggoty slab of jazz decomposition, and its residue is still visible here, particularly on the double-jointed click of ‘Splask’ and ‘Two Bass Hit (Dub)’.

Yet without the precise structure of unnervingly slapped basslines, or his earlier hard-bodied d&b, ‘Budakhan Mindphone’ isn’t so much a coherent record as a piece of anti-virus software, a debugging programme that lets all the glitches and blotches scree across the screen and onto disc. Of course, that should ensure Squarepusher’s next release is a shiny masterpiece of linearity, yet this mini-LP just promises more layers of static. It’s a disintegration, a slow rubbing away of reason and structure, and starting with ‘Iambic 5 Poetry’ seems like the man’s idea of a joke. There’s an introductory drum roll, pretty and chiming, but as the title suggests, its formality is almost Shakespearian compared with the syntactical Armageddon that follows.

By the time he closes with the frightening-as-it-sounds ‘Acid Gong’, he’s faded out to a core that’s not so much hard as virtually impossible – little more than aesthetic tinnitus, a ricocheting patter and drone, like a gamelan in a cyclone. In between is sense swirling away, whether evil gibbering pouncing out from the ambient fronds of ‘The Tide’, or the blister-burst crisis point of ‘Varkatope’. You care because, God, someone really should.

In a half-lit room somewhere in his skull, Tom Jenkinson is dancing fast. He’s just making music for himself and if anyone else likes it, it’s a miracle.