Squarepusher / Hackney Empire
Stuart Gadd takes us on a journey as Squarepusher stirkes back
It's surprising how tactile Squatepusher's live electonica show is. And how intimate also, though spectacular.
You walk through the Empire's beautiful art deco front. Then, after Laurel Halo has unleashed womb like sub bass and chiming, tick ticking electronica into this Victorian theatre's coliseum like interior, it's Squarepusher. Before he arrives however it's just his set up and bass frequencies growling through your body. Then he's on, wearing a headset / visor which suggests Star Trek's Jordi LaForge yet in Robocop. This contraption seeming to have the power of directing a spectacularily shifting light show behind him which consists of tesselated LED, he lets loose jagged but clear rips of digital electronica which tear through the crowd, twinkling clear notes rising above.
The tracks are less melodic than being sound art, abstract sometimes but astral, with a tough core of broken back beats. Although there are shards of melody and counter melody being more about a crystal clarity of components.
Riding high with flighty sounds on a mutant drum n bass groove which is a nice reminder of the black community in a venue which has been entertaining it since the Windrush. During a breakneck syncopated climax the crowd head nod and body rock, the relatively intimate setting aiding music already about the fast sharing of digitally encoded information, lights 'n' all.
The simple yet complex openness of a performance which at times has an almost avant jazz, abstract expressionist brilliance is perhaps best illustrated during the encores, when he straps on his bass. Playing this like a guitar, he produces a linked chain of notes which sound an alternative national anthem, or Hendrix put through an oscillator and doing teletext, as someone says.
What could he see through that visor? Maybe four, possibly five *****'s?