Music Reviews
Solo Electric Bass Volume 1

Squarepusher Solo Electric Bass Volume 1

(Warp) Buy it from Insound Rating - 5/10

I play the bass guitar. I put a lot of time into it and fancy myself to be above average. I also just had the cold, hard truth that I will never even be half the bassist Squarepusher is rubbed in my face for forty minutes by his Solo Electric Bass Vol. 1. I’ve always known this somewhere in the back of my mind - I even made (failed) attempts at bass centered electronic a in high school to emulate him - but hearing him execute a series of solos that I can’t even imagine playing has driven that point home. I finished listening both depressed and astounded.

It’s rare for an electronic musician to demonstrate this level of proficiency at a traditional instrument. The ability to blend soulless electronic with a blazing bass line has made him a standout in the genre. But as talented as he may be as a bass soloist, he is an electronic musician at heart. The bass is the defining feature of his electronic and his strongest tool, but it’s just that: a tool. His compositions aren’t merely backing music for him to show off his technical excellence, they are great standalone songs. That’s severely lacking here.

This first of his solo showcase albums was recorded at a live performance in Paris, and I can honestly say that I would love to see that show. I’m a bassist and would enjoy salivating while watching Squarepusher bust out impossible jazz licks and complex chords. S.E.B. 5 is an absolutely astounding and enjoyable song, but is only such if you’re a) a musician, b) seeing this live and are close enough to be impressed or c) a Squarepusher fan who pines for his jazz side, something that’s increasingly absent in his music. His other live show, which features him on bass, playing electronic beats and loops, keyboards, guitar and anything else that he feels like playing, sounds far more impressive. There, he’s playing everything well and all at the same time.
With Solo Electric Bass Vol. 1, Squarepusher has not made a record for the masses; he has made a record for musicians. Not that it really matters, this is the man who refuses to read reviews or look at album sales figures so they do not corrupt his ultimate musical vision. He’s never made music for the masses and he isn’t about to start now. It may be a bit dull and overlong (a three to five song EP of this would have sufficed), but he doesn’t care. It’s his music and he’ll do what he damn well pleases with it.