Squarepusher: Solo Electric Bass 1

I’d rather listen to human nails being dragged down a blackboard on a loop than an entire album of Tom ‘Squarepusher’ Jenkinson’s slap bass improvisations, but guess which one Warp Records has decided to release? I’ll give you a clue. It’s not Nails Down the Blackboard: Volume One. Instead, Tom’s ‘excursions as a solo bass virtuoso’ are being immortalised on the forthcoming album, ‘Solo Electric Bass 1′*.

I’m a big fan of Squarepusher (Theme from Ernest Borgnine from his debut album Feed Me Weird Things is one of the finest songs ever written – check it out above) and I enjoy the bass guitar in its rightful place – i.e. as an accompaniment to other instruments. But on its own? No ta. According to the press blurb it contains some ‘technically astonishing compositions’, but the little I was able to subject my poor ears to sounded more like the incidental music from ‘Seinfeld’ played by the giant thumb of Mark King from Level 42. No matter how much of a bass whiz Tom is (and he is incredibly proficient), there’s no place on wax for what is essentially an extended version of the bit where the band leader introduces all the hepcats in the jazz ensemble and the bass player wanks off his fretboard for a minute or two while soaking up the applause. Nay, nay and thrice nay. It’s a ’strictly limited release’ – in more ways than one I’d say.

‘Solo Electric Bass 1′ is released by Warp Records on August 17th 2009.

* Most scary of all – the ‘1′ hints that this could be the start of a series…

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23 Comments

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 9:58 am | Permalink

    I like a nice bit o’ slap bass. It’s the funk, dig?

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:09 am | Permalink

    I like a bit of slap too. I don’t know if I’ve missed the point here but the youtube track had no slap bass in it. Talvin Singh meets Dr Who, that’s what that was…

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:12 am | Permalink

    That youtube track is a bit misleading – I couldn’t find a decent clip of ‘Pusher playing slap so opted for a proper good bit of old school acid as an example of what he does that is good.

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I hate slap bass, it reminds me of that rubbish Rock School programme on BBC 2. Plus, Seinfeld has to have one of the worst TV themes ever.

    Joey De Maio of Manowar used to do Bass Solo versions of classical pieces like the Flight of the Bumblebee on their albums.

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    Rock School was shit. It almost put me off wanting to play.
    A bit severe thpugh, hating slap bass because of that and Seinfeld.
    What about Bootsy and Mark King and Jacko Pastorius?

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:11 am | Permalink

    And me…

    *twangs*

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Mark King is an argument against

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:16 am | Permalink

    Why so?
    He is the Sultan of Slap…

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    It’s just a signature sound of crap 80s music Nick, that’s all. It reminds me of Level 42, Johnny Hates Jazz, Living in a Box, all that stuff that I really really hated.

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:30 am | Permalink

    Didn’t Mark King used to fly around on wires while slapping his bass? That’s actually pretty cool if he did. Perhaps if Squarepusher flew about I could forgive him.

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:39 am | Permalink

    I saw Lvel 42 before they were signed in a little bar in the isle of Wight in 1980. Mark King (The Sultan) had a long bass lead, walked off stage and carried on playing as he walked through the bar and out into the street.
    The First Level 42 album was great, all original and imaginative. Then the whole corperate thing happened and they just branded out.
    Same with Dire Straites (?). Their first album and maybe the second was non too bad.
    Most bands of the time did bland out.
    Elvis Costello and The Cure maintained their originality without selling out too much.

    *waits*

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    The Cure didn’t do slap bass though did they? Their albums are aging pretty well on the whole. The Head on the Door still sounds good.

    I quite like the early Dire Straits stuff.

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

    Making Movies is a pretty good album.
    No slap bass though…..

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Permalink

    Wow – an impassioned defence of Level 42. Not something you read every day.

    Fair points though Nick. Like Thumper, I am a fan of early Dire Straits. Though their third album was also good. Anyway, I digress. Perhaps one for a future post.

    I guess the main point I was making with my initial post was that an entire album of pure slap bass noodling is indulgent nonsense. Surely that is indisputable.

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 12:27 pm | Permalink

    I take your point but I would have like to have heard some to make a judgement.
    An album of bass noodling by Charlie Mingus might be nice.
    It does remind me a little of Spinal Tap….

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 12:52 pm | Permalink

    Does smell a bit like Jazz Odyssey doesn’t it?

    I think it’s interesting we’re fessing up to liking early Dire Straits. Maybe there should be a post about all that Guilty Pleasures malarkey. I’ve never bought into it as I have always had a record collection that’s full of unfashionable stuff like Alice Cooper and Queen. I think that Billion Dollar Babies is a better album than London Calling and I’m not afraid to say it!

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 1:17 pm | Permalink

    *shameless plug alert*

    I wrote a piece on Guilty Pleasure on my blog here -

    http://www.thewhitenoiserevisited.co.uk/2007/05/you-should-never-be-ashamed.html

    I don’t believe in it.

    And Nick Tann – if you want to see some Squarepusher bass noodling, here he is on the Culture Show -

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uZ0LL1SJ-6U

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 1:18 pm | Permalink

    Don’t think it’s a guilty pleasure.
    Liking “Brothers in Arms” or later Queen albums would be embaressing. Prefering Jethro Tulls last piece of shit instead of “Aqualung” would be too much. I could go on but think it’s best to stop now.

    Is liking Jethro Tull, too much?

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 1:22 pm | Permalink

    Later Queen albums ARE rubbish. But then again, a lot of people who made good albums in the 70s released a lot of mince in the 80s. Yes, I’m looking at you Mr Bowie.

  • Posted June 30, 2009 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    There’s a post just there Thumper.
    I’d add Steveie Wonder to that list

  • party ed
    Posted July 2, 2009 at 11:59 am | Permalink

    All i can say is that the middle of the crowd at squarepusher in the glade at Glastonbury is a very bad place to be is you’re pulling a pretty severe whitey

  • Nextman
    Posted August 8, 2009 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    “I enjoy the bass guitar in its rightful place – i.e. as an accompaniment to other instruments. But on its own? No ta.”

    What a ridiculous statement. Embarrassing.

  • Posted September 22, 2012 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

    There is definately a great deal to know about
    this topic. I like all of the points you have made.

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