This 2002 album from electronic music (or IDM, if you're picky) artist Squarepusher is a bit of a taunt to his fans. Its title itself makes his intentions seem questionable; he has defied his audience's expecations many times in the past, but if he is specifically trying to surprise us it sounds more like gimmickry than innovation.
Rumor on the internet promised that Do You Know Squarepusher would have a rap song, and an alternative rock song. "Wow! How weird! I guess we don't know Squarepusher!" might be one's reaction to this news, and that was surely the intent. And what those songs turned out to be is certainly weird.
Note: Short samples of all the new studio tracks are available at warprecords.com , and transcriptions of the lyrics to F-Train and the manifesto from inside the album's liner are available at squarepusher.watmm.com
F-Train is a rap song containing phrases like "thousand yard stares look sideways into infinite parallel ports". This kind of amusing nonsense reminds me of Metaphysical by Handsome Boy Modeling School, a track which featured Mike D of the Beastie Boys spewing out rap cliches while Miho Hatori of Cibo Matto recited meaningless technobabble in a deadpan voice. But Metaphysical was elaborate and well-produced, and F-Train is glitchy and dissonant. It's realized only as "hey, a rap song by Squarepusher!", which is something he more or less has already done with the title track of the album, formerly released as an untitled single (catalog number WAP155A1). The lyrics of the song "Do You Know Squarepusher" actually make sense, with typical rap phrasing, starting with "Squarepusher, with all the different styles of drum and bass, sent to you with (something unintelligible) interface". It's nearly distorted as much as F-Train, but it's a lot more pleasing to the ears, with mellifluous synthesized sounds instead of the gritty clashing of tone and vocal that F-Train has.
The instrumental tracks are mixed in appeal to me, and I don't seem to share the opinions of many listeners. While Anstromm-Feck 4, a hectic drum & bass track, strikes me as one of the best new directions Squarepusher could go in, others deride it for sounding like "something out of a Playstation 2 snowboarding game". The other tracks waver between Autechre-like dissonance and slow but rough ambience, and while they leave me interested but not excited, some reviewers seem to be showering the whole album with vague praise just for its eclecticism.
The "alternative" song, a cover of Love Will Tear Us Apart by Joy Division, is actually quite excellent. While in all respects it's more subdued than the original, the guitars and vocals match the tone and feeling of the original song quite well, and the little wrinkles added, like a faint choir of backing vocals on the chorus, make it a very pleasant revision of a great song.
More to come
after the album is officially released on September 30, 2002 after I get my own copy....
Released as WARPCD97 and WARPLP97 - the latter referring to the vinyl version, that lacks the compact disc release's second disc.