The bright and breezy ‘Look Around You‘-style cover and pink artwork somehow doesn’t suit Squarepusher’s image as a dark and angry fellow. But don’t let that deceive you. The most notable thing about this album is how much it sounds like Squarepusher — and you couldn’t mistake it for anybody else.
Since he emerged ten years ago, Squarepusher has taken his fans on a bit of a journey. It’s not unusual for acoustic instruments and full-on electronic music to appear together, but often it’s as a bit of a gimmick. Squarepusher does it as though it’s the normal thing to do. His electronic music is as good as anybody’s, but he’s also a bloody demon on the bass guitar. Check out this live video of Hello Everything‘s opening track, ‘Hello Meow’.
His appearance on The Culture Show showed how intense he is when playing the bass guitar with all those involuntary facial expressions pulled. (Unfortunately the appearance also showed us his receeding hairline and the fact that he only has one shirt, although he makes up for it with his splendid beard.)
It was this amazing combination of virtuoso bass playing and intricate electronica that initially turned heads with Squarepusher’s emergence ten years ago. But along the way Squarepusher has experimented with the formula a lot. There was the murky, woozy yet captivating Music is Rotted One Note, an album that sounds like it’s melting all the way through.
Then there was Go Plastic and Do You Know Squarepusher, a pair of albums that almost completely dispensed with the bass guitar. In Ultravisitor the bass guitar made its triumphant return in a quasi-live album that sounded as if it owed more to prog rock than the Amen break.
But Hello Everything isn’t a surprise like that. This sounds like classic Squarepusher straight away. Some of these tracks could have easily been at home on his first album, Feed Me Weird Things. ‘Bubble Life’ harks back to Selection Sixteen.
If I was pressed, I would say the main difference to Squarepusher’s past work is that Hello Everything sounds quite space-like. The intense ‘Planetarium’, an instant stand-out, is unashamedly cosmic.
Like Ultravisitor, the style and mood skips from track to track. So as well as the drum and bass tracks we have the more thoughtful, relaxing moments. ‘Theme From Sprite’ is a very cool track that sounds like it should be played in a smokey jazz bar. Nice! There is also the irresistably beautiful ‘Circlewave 2’.
Also included with Hello Everything is a ‘bonus CD’ entitled Vacuum Tracks. Unfortunately, it is extremely boring. Almost twenty minutes of inconsequential bleeps and whoooos that go absolutely nowhere. One track in this style, ‘Vacuum Garden’, was included on Hello Everything itself, and that was quite enough thank you very much.
More successful is the Welcome to Europe 12-inch / digital single. ‘Hanningfield Window’ is a fine track, but ‘Exciton’ is the one that really grabs you by the balls. I’d like Squarepusher to do more tracks like this!
All-in-all, Vacuum Tracks aside, Squarepusher’s new music is a great success. I was actually a bit iffy about Squarepusher until the release of Ultravisitor. Ever since then I’ve come to appreciate his older music more. For me, Hello Everything just underlines the fact that Tom Jenkinson is one of the finest musicians around at the moment.