Live Review: Squarepusher

25 May 2015 | 1:17 pm | Matt MacMaster

"Through the white noise and digital banshee howls of glitch-rave gone mad, the lush chords of 'Stor Eiglass' broke like rain, seeping into our subconscious"

More Squarepusher More Squarepusher

With 14 albums to his credit Tom Jenkinson remains unchallenged in his ability to play with your synapses like puppet strings. Even outfits like Autechre or Aphex Twin don’t have the same terrifying power that Squarepusher has, and neither of those artists can boast the kind of impact Jenkinson makes during his sets as clouds of angry static bloom around your head, and snarling bass lines flare out like hot lightning.

Jenkinson hovered over two laptops and other equipment, sweating through his fencing visor as TRON-like effects scanned his torso and threw shadows across the display behind him. The delay made his dark shape another person working in tandem, bobbing and contorting slightly out of time.

Through the white noise and digital banshee howls of glitch-rave gone mad, the lush chords of Stor Eiglass broke like rain, seeping into our subconscious and giving great relief and the energy to press on and engage with the maelstrom. The massive bombardment of electro-neuromancy and drum’n’bass-fuelled savagery that followed was punctuated by small bursts of actual melody that revealed the human heart behind the gleeful mechanical mayhem. Baltang Arg felt like a raised edifice we could rest on and gaze out upon an endless industrial complex in awe.

While sonic warfare was being created and pulled apart around us, the visuals were another element entirely. There was obviously some software connection in place that allowed pre-programmed models to follow certain frequencies of sound, and it felt crudely alive and self-aware. The textures and colours felt intuitive and allowed a connection to the music otherwise impossible without. 

Don't miss a beat with our FREE daily newsletter

The performance was breathless and challenging, and more than one person left defeated. They missed a perfect encore however, when Jenkinson returned to play a six-string bass. Two songs of surprisingly beautiful free jazz brought us back into our bodies and down to earth, thus recovering from the vicious robotic vivisection we had gladly submitted ourselves to. It was a prefect balancing act that heralded the start of another stellar year of Vivid’s particular brand of genius.