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A recurring complaint about electronic music is that its creators cannot successfully perform live or play “real” instruments. Squarepusher, the brainchild of the drum-and-bass extremist Tom Jenkinson, openly defies this position with Music Is Rotted One Note. Instead of cranking out a CD of dancer-unfriendly blurps and beats, Squarepusher combines Miles Davis–influenced fusion with Jenkinson’s own perverse sampling strategies—all using instruments rather than a computer.
Jenkinson has always borrowed from legendary jazz drummers such as Art Blakey and Buddy Rich, and it shows on Note. He lays down Fender Rhodes piano and electric bass over subtle yet restless drumming on most of the tracks. The off-tempo jump cuts from previous Squarepusher releases are heard here, but this time the tangled noises are organic, not sequenced. In fact, the song “My Sound” could be mistaken for an unreleased jam from the similarly minded postrockers Tortoise. Despite the negativity of the CD’s title, Music Is Rotted One Note is a big step in forward-thinking music.