Realizing that another obsessively imitative jazz fusion workout could quickly become a blind alley, Squarepusher's Tom Jenkinson returned to the green fields of drum'n'bass for 2001's Go Plastic, and sounds quite refreshed for having taken the holiday. As one of the track titles ("Go! Spastic") attests, Jenkinson's back to heavy drill'n'bass, the practically undanceable collision of fractured breakbeats and sample-a-second riffs he made popular with his earliest work as Squarepusher. The opener and first single, "My Red Hot Car," is probably the most together production on the album, filtering drill'n'bass through the prism of the stylish British 2-step all the rage in clubland during recent years. (Even though the vocals are filtered and messed with, the risqué, scene-satirical lyrics are still audible, putting the track right in line with twisted, bizarro classics like Aphex Twin's "Come to Daddy" and "Windowlicker.") Jenkinson quickly moves from the single to "Boneville Occident" and "Go! Spastic," a pair of drill'n'bass knockouts that veer from pointed, endlessly complex breakbeats to downbeat hip-hop at the drop of a hat. He also approaches some sort of nadir for time-stretched drum'n'bass chaos on the seventh track, "Greenways Trajectory" -- the breakbeat carnage is packed together so tightly that, eventually, the entire production is reduced to a series of dog-whistle test tones.
It's clear Go Plastic is a work of programmed electronics, with little of the jazz influence or played instruments audible on 1999's Music Is Rotted One Note. Jenkinson uses a lot of classic, sampled breakbeats -- reminiscent of early jungle and hardcore -- and even reprises the original "jump wide!" vocal-sample classic, tweaked separately in both channels at the same time. Toward the end, Jenkinson trades the experimentation for a bit of mood-setting on pieces like "Tommib" and "Plaistow Flex Out," but these are only temporary detours from some serious programming chaos. Any jazzbos left over from his previous work may be in for a rude awakening to the frenetic programming and primitive acid house textures; still, fans of Squarepusher from the beginning will be overjoyed to hear him back doing what he's done best.