Tom Jenkinson, aka Squarepusher, is an example of one of those musicians that just thinks in a completely different way to everyone else. Think Miles Davis or Jimi Hendrix, but with electronica.

Originally playing Electric Bass and Drums in a Jazz style, Jenkinson has a strong musical background. This sets him apart from many of his label-mates and would-be peers as he appears to have approached the 'intelligent' area of electronic music from a completely different angle. Rather than progressing from traditional highly repetitive dance-oriented techno to what's irritatingly dubbed Intelligent Dance Music, he introduced the electronic element into his largely improvisational musicality.

Arguably his most solid and spectacular work is his 1997 album Hard Normal Daddy. A true fusion of jazz moderne and the psychotic beyond-breakbeat polyrhythmic confusion that is Jenkinson's own take on electronica. From the 'live' feel of Coopers World (complete with crowd noise) to the acid-on-acid craziness of Rustic Raver (complete with wild solo's played with an acidic synth) one can get a true feel for Jenkinson's intelligence, diversity, and humour.

Like many electronic artists, Jenkinson's live show consists of him sitting behind a pair of turntables as he plays his tunes, in a very "here's one I prepared earlier" kind of way. He would sometimes play bass as well, but his most recent work doesn't have any electric bass work in it.

After listening to his albums pre-Go Plastic one would be surprised to hear that they were composed entirely with a sampler and some synthesizers. Little, if any, sequencing was done with a computer, which is amazing when you consider the dazzling complexity of his rhythms and melodies. Only on the album Go Plastic did he finally begin using an actual computer, and as a result the depth of his music has increased by an order of magnitude.

A squarepusher is a masher, a gigolo. A man who gets all dressed up to go flirt with the ladies, or a military man, or officer of the peace, who puts on his uniform to look important while trying to bag some broads.

It is, in other words, an actual word, and not something made up by Tom Jenkinson. I thought that is was just an IDM neologism until encountering the following passage, Edy Boardman's words, in the Circe episode of Joyce's Ulysses:

I seen you up Faithful place with your squarepusher, the greaser off the railway, in his cometobed hat.

There's an earlier reference in Ulysses too, back in the Lestrygonians episode, in Bloom's interior monologue:

Easily twig a man used to uniform. Squarepushing up against a backdoor.

I'm sure that the title of the Squarepusher 12" Bubble and Squeak has entirely different connotations to those who don't know that it's a breakfast dish. But no one I've spoken to, in the US or in the British Isles, seems to know squarepusher.

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