There have been peaks in the creativity of electronic music, and the one referred to in these words was undoubtedly one of them. The passage of time has proved it.
It was a time when people like Richard D. James (aka Aphex Twin), Autechre, Boards of Canada or who we are talking about today, Squarepusher, dazzled the underground electronic universe with stunning creations.
Tom Jenkinson, better known as Squarepusher, was born in Chelmsford, Essex, UK, in 1975, and since he was very young, he has lived tied to the neck of a bass guitar (although he also plays drums), growing up listening to Jazz monsters such as Coltrane and Davis. At the age of twelve he started playing Trash Metal with a local band, and so he spent his adolescence until 1991, when Acid and House music entered his life, changing his musical orientation definitively.
In those days, Richard D. James, whom Jenkinson cites as one of his earliest and most important influences, begins to release his work, and opens an important avenue of expression for other great authors of what later came to be called IDM (Intelligent Dance Music). Although personally I always liked much better the slang name: drill’n’bass.
In 1993 Tom’s first recording came out, and in the following two years, his career took an upward trend that took him from remixing DJ Food to rejecting two record contracts, one with Ninja Tune and the other with the Belgian R&S. There was a pivotal event, which was meeting Richard D. James, who helped him select the tracklisting for what was to be his first album and convinced him to release it on his label, Rephlex, through the real specialists in that sound, Warp Records.
Thus was born Feed Me Weird Things, Jenkinson’s debut full-length, which was released on June 3rd 1996. Twelve tracks that dazzled critics and underground audiences as soon as they were heard, laying the foundations of the sound that a few pioneers had already been evangelizing. In the grooves of those two 12″ vinyls or in the binary codes of that CD that came out in the first edition, one can hear influences from multiple genres, such as drum and bass, Acid, House or Techno, playing with all of them to create a tremendous result. But perhaps because of his childhood love of bass and drums, it all came infused with an organic aroma that set him apart from his contemporaries.
All this combined with an incredible capacity to surprise the listener. Let’s take an example, one is listening to the marvelous Theme From Ernest Borgnine, which begins almost in an ambient key, after a minute comes a wonderful percussive drum and bass base that transports us through the whole track until a minute before its end, an Acid orgy sweeps away everything that has been established up to that moment.
Feed Me Weird Things is undoubtedly a cornerstone of today’s electronic music, almost like any piece in Jenkinson’s discography or any of the other artists mentioned at the beginning of this article.
I think one of the best definitions of what this album meant was the one given by Richard D. James in the liner notes of the original release:
“Squarepusher is someone who wonders what the holes in a flute sound like without the flute. Sound like sound has never sounded before; Richard Rodgers and Julie Andrews gave us the sound of music, John Cage and Simon & Garfunkel gave us the sound of silence, and now Squarepusher gives us the sound of sound”.
It is now the 25th anniversary of the release of this album, and to celebrate, Warp has remastered the sound, added two more tracks (Theme From Goodbye Renaldo and Deep Fried Pizza) and created lustful vinyl editions, such as the 2 x 12″ + 1 x 10″ on clear vinyl and 16-page booklet.
Available now here