Squarepusher presents Shobaleader One Squarepusher presents Shobaleader Oned?Demonstrator
Appetiser: vocoder salad with shrimps, with a reduction of synthetic herbs. First course: bass slaps with fillets marinated in funk sauce. Second course: Daft Punk liver with purée a la Bootsy. Dessert: flan with platforms and a shot of poppers.. Squarepusher has changed the cheapo menu of his schizo restaurant. Now, the kitchen is an Ed Banger franchise –although the album is released by Warp, the first 12” of this new project by beardyman Tom Jenkinson was published by the Parisian label, keep that in mind because it’s a key fact–, and although many bleep extremists have had to take a deep breath upon hearing the news, the switch to the French school stove wasn’t all that traumatic, albeit with somewhat disappointing results. Tom Jenkinson is not giving Warp an Edbangerian touch, nor has Warp knocked on his door again to make him a member of the party sect. It’s something in between (and a bit boring), a grey spot between the Parisian confetti and the uranium pills from Sheffield. A freak, so to speak, we could qualify as incidental and even funny. The truth is that little is known about the ulterior motive of this supposedly new band called Shobaleader One. Jenkinson is the frontman of an imaginary band about whose member we know nothing –maybe they don’t even exist– and which is more unknown than the current address of Kirk Cameron.
In this weird soup, Squarepusher takes dive in an oily bath of soft-rock, disco-pop, electro jazz, soultronics and P-funk with a strong retro-robotic flavour. It’s as if he has had a wet dream featuring George Clinton, Jake Slazenger and Thomas Bangalter and when he woke up, his erection still visible under the sheets, had started writing the score. What you will find on “d’Demonstrator” has nothing to do with the extremist deliriums of the Briton. The former electric bass terrorist who used to disembowel jazz and drum’n’bass like a percussive Parkinson patient with punk attitude, is this time wearing a sequin frock coat, giant sunglasses, a purple top hat and platform boots and plays the role of some kind of funkster Hunter S. Thompson. The result is soulless. He uses the vocoder way too much, the rockist outbursts with saturated electric guitars end up hurting your eardrums, the manipulated voices are funny at first, but by the time you get to the second half of the album you feel like flushing your iPod down the toilet, the instrumental funk-soul moments sound like music for the elevators of the Arkham Asylum. There are a few funny ideas and it’s a good thing he tries to go off at a tangent with something humorous, and there are even some moments the old Jenkinson succeeds in bringing the filtered electro-pop of Busy P’s team to his particular part of the field. But no, it doesn’t work. It’s like a hasty joke.
The memorable moments are there, though, like the robotic R&B of “Plug Me In”, the lo-fi P-funk baroque of “Laser Rock”, the cybernetic soft-pop of “Into The Blue”, the “Love Boat” disco kitsch “The Love Boat” of “Frisco Wave”, the Giallo post-rock improv of “Maximum Planck”. The rest lacks substance and sounds too Daft Punk-y. “Megazine” would be a great tune had it not been so reminiscent of the makers of “Discovery”, even though it sounds like it was played on pots and pans in the garage. The same goes for “Endless Night” and “Criptic Notion”. The footprints of Bangalter and Homem-Christo and the French post-Justice hordes are too deep and visible to take this serious. Let’s hope Jenkinson won’t take too much of a liking to camping out in the French fields: that whole “black sheep of electronica” thing wouldn’t make any sense any more.