Music by Murderous Robots

Joey Hill

Tom Jenkinson has never really stuck to any one sound when it came to music making and his latest release “Damogen Furies” is yet another branching off point which he has sought out to take in the world of electronic music.

Squarepusher is a name that carries a considerable amount of weight in the world of electronic music. While not only the veritable granddaddy of drum and bass and acid house music, he also sports one of the most diverse musical catalogues of the last few decades. Dating back from the mid-1980s, Squarepusher was one of the forerunners of drum and bass – most notably his work with the amen break, a drum beat cut from the song “Amen Brother” by soul group The Winstons. These early works were fast and spastic. He took the 1960’s drum beat and spliced it closer together into jittering, schizophrenic walls of electronic fireworks. While Squarepusher’s career has sent him into vastly different places but “Damogen Furies” can’t help but feel like he’s simply doing more of the same.

This is hardly a conceptual album, and, if it is, it’s extremely minimal in its attempts. Only containing eight tracks, there’s very little that can be done, even if many of the tracks are over 5 minutes long. It begins with the pulsing and upbeat “Stor Eiglass” which seems to be the beginning of a poppy, though dark synth based album. It’s only after this start that Squarepusher violently pulls the tablecloth out from under the dinner with “Baltang Ort,” a low, brooding and glitch monster of a track that seems to breathe with an odd and foreboding bass rumble that slithers under the jittering upper beat like an anaconda looking for prey. This along with the next track, “Rayc Fire,” make up the gist of the theme of the album, a dark and coldly mechanical application of music. “Baltang Ort” itself sounds much like the music that blares through a factory while it builds terminator robots. The surging beats become almost orchestral near the end, making the entire song sound like the production and dawning of a deeply powerful and lethal weapon.

Much of what Squarepusher is known for is his being part of the origin of “hacker techno” of the late 1990s and early 2000s. “Damogen Furies” is very much a throwback to this period, but with focuses on more contemporary forms of glitch electronica similar to groups like The Glitch Mob. Where this album’s shortcomings lie is not actually in the quality of the music itself but more in the lack of real growth by Squarepusher. “Damogen Furies” is a well-made album on its own and is definitely worth a listen, but, to those who have been listening to Squarepusher throughout his career, it’s very evident that he’s not making the great artistic leaps and risks which he could be making.