Review: Squarepusher, 'Damogen Furies' There's fertile middle ground between furrow-browed intensity and appreciation for the gleefully absurd, and the U.K. producer's new album finds a sweet spot right there.


Review: Squarepusher, 'Damogen Furies'

Damogen Furies. Courtesy of the artist hide caption

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Courtesy of the artist

Of all the fitful, fractious breakbeat expressionists who got their start in the U.K. in the late 1990s — see also: Aphex Twin, Autechre, μ-ziq — Squarepusher has proven the most wild and untamed. Unpredictability has always been integral to a genre that merges rave-minded electronic sounds with the strictures of so-called IDM (intelligent dance music), but Squarepusher is alone in his capacity to swerve between club bangers and, say, jazz-fusion suites or even an album made with nothing more than dexterous jams on solo electric bass.

Damogen Furies, the latest in a list of albums dating back to 1996, finds Squarepusher at his most bombastic and intense, with enough bludgeoning beats and epic sonic seizures to take on the heaviest EDM upstarts of the world. "Stor Eiglass" starts off as if in the middle of a ritual already underway in an empty warehouse, with concussive drums and synthesized zipper sounds that open into a sort of day-glo fantasia before going dark and hard again. It's like a rave tune retrofitted with the aural palette of MGMT, and it sets the scene for an album that doesn't let up from there. "Baltang Ort" is dense and seething to an almost comical degree, stomping with great weight before leading to a send-off around the 5:00 mark that races off at an otherworldly speed. "Kontenjaz" is crazy-making for its devotion to all manner of radical jump-cuts and swerves.

Intimations of humor are never far from Squarepusher's challenging music, which is all the better and more powerful for the unusual alliance he strikes. There's fertile middle ground between furrow-browed intensity and appreciation for the gleefully absurd, and Damogen Furies finds a sweet spot somewhere therein. Even at his most unhinged, however, Squarepusher has a knack for flashes of virtuoso control, as in the drum-run in the last half of "Exjag Nives" or the many little wiggles and shifts in "Baltang Arc." It can be hard to know how exactly to react to every moment, but making a case for fruitful confusion is Squarepusher's specialty.