This Summer, electronic veteran Squarepusher will release Ufabulum, his first solo album since 2009.
Much of the attention dedicated to the album has centred around claims in Warp Records’ press release that it would be more “aggressive” than recent Squarepusher records – which have tended to focus more on bass guitar than basslines – and that it represents a return to “pure electronics”. In a new interview with Clash, however, Squarepusher – real name Tom Jenkinson – claims that although this minor mission statement is actually the result of “a thing I said at passing to one of the guys at Warp … I didn’t realise at the time that I was being monitored for a possible catchphrase!”, Ufabulum does find him sacking off the live instruments.
“In a very loose way, what I was trying to say is that this is music which doesn’t contain any live performance as such”, explains Jenkinson. “It’s music which is generated purely from programming. There’s no live guitar or drums, there’s nothing in it which is live, really. At all”.
“The other thing to say about it is that live, the way in which I have been working – particularly on a record like [past album] Just A Souvenir – is where I’m performing all these live takes, I’m the instrumental performer but also the engineer and the writer. At the same time you’re switching between what I feel are two very different mindsets: the mindset of a performer and the mindset of an engineer. From my experience, you make a conscious switch when you step from one set of shoes to another. It’s actually consequently very demanding, it’s very hard work”.
“I’m old school in the sense that I will also get very good live takes rather than chopping together bits of performances to make one hyper-real perfect tape” the producer muses. “I’ll just play one song all the way through until I get it right. It’s a lot of work. I want to get back to doing something.. Again if you’re play a live take on the spur of the moment then everything you do gets recorded, consequently if you’re recording and you fuck up then everything’s fucked up. If you make music in a recorded fashion then you’ve got all the time in the world. If you don’t like something then you just re-arrange it.”
Like the prog rock fantasia of Just a Souvenir, Ufabulum is inspired by a dream that Jenkinson had. “I’ve got this particular recurring dream where it’s essentially about a perfect piece of music – I hasten to add that I know how ridiculous that sounds, and I don’t really even endorse the concept or even the possibility that a perfect piece of music can exist” he says. “But simply it’s a track I’ve but written but then lost, and I’ve found it again in this dream and it unifies my work”.
“I look at my work quite critically, I see it as a very splintered, quite messy – specifically with reference to my recorded output which spans 18 years now. It’s a great, big fucking mess. In this dream, this one piece of music is the final part of the puzzle which makes sense of the whole thing. The thing is, I’ve been having this dream for years and the painful thing on waking up is realising that the piece of music actually doesn’t exist. Yet it acts as an inspiration for me a lot, you think: I actually want to make that piece. And of course you can’t. You never really quite achieve the sense of completeness that it seemed to have in the dream. But still, it’s a valid inspirational force.”
You can read the full piece here.