Port Rhombus

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The year 1996 proved to be groundbreaking for Tom Jenkinson, a musician's musician. Rephlex put out the Squarepusher Plays... EP, along with his first full-length album, Feed Me Weird Things, and then a new chapter in his recording career began with the Port Rhombus EP, the first of many releases on Warp. Previous efforts on labels like Worm Interface and Spymania seemed to suggest that he was trying to make the most of equipment limitations, and therefore leaning more on his skills as a bass player. By the time Warp got a whiff of him, he had all the kinks worked out, he had a distinct sound, and he was a solid addition to the growing label. The title track, "Port Rhombus," steps in on soft pads of electric piano and hi-hat shimmerings that crescendo to a factory full of drummy drills and subdued Spanish guitar licks. Jenkinson finds true beauty in his fragile strummings, while offsetting them with his trademark drum'n'bass rhythm score, which is truly a composition in and of itself. "Problem Child" follows next, the true embodiment of "drum" and "bass," since he is sampling his own live playing of both. The EP comes to a close with "Significant Others," a futuristic, tempo-blending collage of moog keyboards and atonal drones, peppered generously with digital-delay drum machines. With these three tracks, Jenkinson led the pack and deserved more credit than his peers for being an electronic musician, and not just an electronic programmer. He surprises, satisfies, and delivers, all in the course of 16 minutes. Collector's note: A domestic re-release of Squarepusher's 1997 Big Loada EP includes the three tracks from Port Rhombus, along with a CD-ROM video for "Come on My Selector" -- an excellent package for the uninitiated.

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