Squarepusher, or Tom Jenkinson, is an British electronic music artist signed to Warp Records. He writes experimental electronic music, drawing a lot of influence from drum and bass and jazz. Jenkinson was born in Chelmsford, Essex in 1975 and studied Fine Art at Chelsea College of Art and Design. At shows, Jenkinson often uses a fretted bass guitar, a laptop, and various other hardware. He has appeared twice on BBC Radio 1’s The Breezeblock show.
Squarepusher sequenced his pre-2000 work on a BOSS DR-660 drum machine. He uses hardware for his electronic music such as Akai samplers, (S950 for early work, S6000 for later work), a Roland SH-101 synthesizer, a Roland TB-303 bassline synthesizer, and a reel-to-reel tape machine. Around the year 2000, Squarepusher bought a computer with Reaktor and an Eventide Orville for digital processing. According to a list of gear from the official website, Squarepusher owns the following:
“Bass guitars: Music Man / Rickenbacker 4001 / Custom built 6 string.
Guitars: Classical and Baritone classical / custom electric guitar.
Software: Reaktor custom algorithms.
Electronic Hardware: Eventide “Orville” + “DSP4000” using only homemade algorithms/ Yamaha sequencer / 16 track tape machine / MackieDesk / Sine wave generator / Roland SH101 / Octave “Cat” synth / AKG414 mics / Home made + AKG analogue reverb units / DAT recorder.
Percussion: Ludwig drum kit / Balinese percussion / xylophone.
Other: some wires, mains leads, a room to put it all in, cooperative neighbors, etc. ”
He has been known to play Fender, Ernie Ball, and Warwick basses.
Squarepusher is known for using the Amen break in his most famous songs.
He is currently performing live with drummer Alex Thomas.
Feed Me Weird Things (June 3, 1996)
Hard Normal Daddy (April 28, 1997) #115 UK
Burningn’n Tree (November 10, 1997)
Buzz Caner (May 25, 1998) (as Chaos A.D.)
Music Is Rotted One Note (October 12, 1998)
Budakhan Mindphone (March 1, 1999) #183 UK
Selection Sixteen (November 8, 1999)
Go Plastic (June 25, 2001) #100 UK
Do You Know Squarepusher (September 30, 2002) #192 UK
Ultravisitor (March 8, 2004) #90 UK
Hello Everything (October 16, 2006) #89 UK
Just a Souvenir (October 27, 2008)
1. “Tundra:” Often referred to as the track that all boys should listen to before becoming men. It’s “Tundra.” We first heard the song in 1996, when it was released on Feed Me Weird Things. One of the greatest things about this track is the fact that you can listen to it over and over again and it never gets old the way most songs do. We’ve even heard tell of people being completely obsessed with the song, to the point of listening to it thousands of times.
2. “Come On My Selector:” Released in 1999. Not only is this one of Squarepusher’s best songs, from one of his all-time best records (Big Loada), but it was released with a cool music video to boot. We’re fans of it. Jenkinson is actually in the video. Can you find him?
3. “Port Rhombus:” Like the #2 song, also from Big Loada. Jenkinson really kept it real on that record. The acoustic guitar in this has that Spanish / Latin vibe going for it. Combine that with those spacey synths and unique Amen breaks and you’re on to something interesting.
4. “I Wish You Could Talk:” Love the name. Love the track progression. Love how many elements are combined in the track as a working whole. Great for first dates and break-ups!
5. “Massif (Stay Strong):” Straight from the beginning: it’s good. Distorted beats and high-pitched synths aren’t for everyone, but this is a classic for us. The only reason this falls to fifth in the ranking is because once you listen to it enough times it loses some of its freshness. Also, you should note that Squarepusher plays all of his synth melodies with a midi controller bass guitar. Meaning, it’s not a traditional guitar, but one that you can bind synthesizer sounds to. That’s just what he’s most comfortable with.
6. “Iambic 5 Poetry:” Relax with this one. Fond of the bells and the bass.
7. “A Journey To Reedham (7am Mix):” It’s hard to deny the 8-bit, video game feel to this. So, yeah, it brings out the inner 8-bit nerd, which we admit: not everyone has that as a part of them. However, we think that both former Nintendo lovers and anti-video game people alike can like this. There are lots of reasons for why this track wouldn’t be enjoyable for some people, but that could probably be said about Squarepusher’s music in general.
8. “Last Ap Roach:” Stylewise, this is arguably the most different from every other song in the 10. The droning nature of this one not only creates a sort of trance state, but also has a sort of creepy vibe to it. It must be the eerie sirens sound. The irony is, though, are you really creeped out if you’re in a trance? By the way, music in the actual trance genre sucks for the fact that it’s so utterly cheesy, yet is still classifiable as electronic music. There are some genres of electronic music that give electronic music as a whole a bad name. What’s funny is that all music these days is edited and then finalized with computers. Last time we checked computers won’t work without electricity. Maybe that’s knit-picking, but there’s also lots more electronic influence in music than ever before. Take hip-hop, for instance: T-Pain and the autotuner/vocoder obsession. That’s all electronic. Did you realize T-Pain was born in 1985? That means he was 11 when “Tundra” dropped. How many 11 year olds do you know who listen to good music? Seriously.
9. “Theme from Ernest Borgnine:” Actor Ernest Borgnine is an interesting character. We don’t know much about him, aside from the fact that he was in Airwolf. Just look at his photo below as you listen to this song and try and figure out why Squarepusher decided this should be his theme. Just because this is #9 doesn’t mean it’s not great. It just wouldn’t be a ranking without an order. Mr. Borgnine turned 92 in January.
10. “Tommib:” Featured in the soundtrack of the movie Lost In Translation, this is our definition of short and sweet from Jenkinson. The song was released two years before the film. Why wouldn’t there be a lag in the amount of time it took a mainstream director like Sofia Coppola to discover an experimental music song? Of course, who knows who actually picked the song for the movie. Could’ve been the Music Supervisor Brian Reitzell, or any of a handful of people behind the film.