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Elektrac
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  • Elektrac is the second album IDM legend Squarepusher (Tom Jenkinson) recorded with his band Shobaleader One, a mysterious group of masked figures with names like Strobe Nazard and Arg Nution. While the first Shobaleader album (d'Demonstrator) contained futuristic electro-funk tunes that sounded nothing like the manic, jazzy drum'n'bass Jenkinson is usually known for, Elektrac features live renditions of tracks from throughout his sprawling discography. The selections mainly focus on uptempo, ecstatic numbers that emphasize Jenkinson's jazz fusion roots, showcasing the more human elements present in his music. For much of the album, the group delves deeply into the Squarepusher catalog, including tracks from his releases on Rephlex and early Warp albums like Hard Normal Daddy. Performing such complex compositions would be too much for most musicians to handle, but whoever these enigmatic beings are, they are more than up to the task, and in several cases, these versions manage to be even more energetic and supercharged than the originals. "Don't Go Plastic," from Squarepusher's fusion masterpiece Music Is Rotted One Note, is tackled early on in the set, and the group manages to elevate it into something more glorious than it was before, extending its length by a few minutes and adding heaps of bugged-out keyboards and noisy guitar. "Squarepusher Theme" (from 1996's Feed Me Weird Things) is loads of fun, with drummer Company Laser managing to do the impossible and match the quadruple-time breakbeats of the original, and even increasing the tempo a bit. "E8 Boogie" blends extremely busy bass guitar work with calmer moments, ending up with a space age mutation of heavy, James Brown-inspired funk. At the end of the program, the group nails two tracks that originally featured Jenkinson's signature mangled Amen breaks. "Anstromm Feck 4" (one of the keepers from the lackluster Do You Know Squarepusher) is simply bonkers, with an exotic synth bass melody and plenty of squelchy ring modulation effects more common in Squarepusher's later material. Then they bring it all home with "Journey to Reedham," easily a contender for Squarepusher's best song overall (other than the heartbreaking "Tundra"). The video game-inspired melody blipping throughout the entire song keeps a huge grin plastered on the listener's face, and while it's unthinkable for any human to replicate the blurred drum sound of the original, the drums here are as accurate as possible for any mortal, and it sounds utterly mind-boggling. The entire album is exhilarating from top to bottom, and is easily the most exciting Squarepusher-related release in at least a decade. ~ Paul Simpson
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