Published Jan 01, 2006After driving off the course with Music is Rotted One Note, a bizarre jazz experimentation into sound, it seemed Tom Jenkinson (better known as Squarepusher) had lost the plot and admirers were left scratching their heads. With confusion seeping in, heads wondered as to when the beat-mangler was going to return to what he does best: messing with our unprepared minds.
His latest release, Go Plastic, is once again through Warp Records and is a restoration of the truly unique and downright maniacal flavour one expects from a Squarepusher release. "It's really mental actually, well, quite literally mental," admits Jenkinson. "I bought this small section of a mental home where I come from, called Runwell Mental Institution. It's really fucking spooky. There are these electric shock therapy machines and all this weird old medical junk just lying around. I've always had this thing for that place because the architecture is really quite freaky. I'm sort of intrigued by the atmosphere in mental institutions and asylums. So I decided to set up my studio down there." Jenkinson feels that he's sort of at home in such an atmosphere; he admits that he was raised in a hysterical family and has been known to push the envelope of sanity himself. "There've been times in my life where I've sort of teetered into that area, which is why I'm intrigued by it and also sympathetic towards it. You could describe someone who's mentally ill as not being at home with themselves, like they're not processing things in their current way, and in that sense I've felt like that all my life. One of the reasons I make music is to keep me just on the right side of that edge."
Jenkinson's travels to the edge could be the reason we're blessed with such abstract beats that have been sliced, diced, and downright pulverised. "I feel most at home with either vague suggestions or full-blown experiences. I see [Go Plastic] as a sensory overload or something that's blasting you. Like you modify your brain in some way to keep up with it or make sense of it." Even though Jenkinson now has a few releases under his belt and a dedicated fan base, he's still not overly comfortable with showers of praise from admirers, something that he will more than likely receive during his upcoming tour with label-mates Plaid this year. "I do what I do so I can feel normal. In reality, I'm not. So when people come up to me and remind me of that fact that I'm a freak, then I get really freaked out and I just want to stay abreast of it. So I do this just so at the end of the day I can sleep. Yet people treat you like you've just got out of a space ship at a gig. If you like it then cool, whatever. Don't bug me because the more I feel like a freak the closer I get to that horrible edge, you know what I mean?"