Squarepusher – Lamental EP

4 out of 5

Label: Warp

Produced by: Tom Jenkinson (?)

I think this makes a lot more sense in its vinyl form – rather how I’m reviewing it – as opposed to digital, where the track breakdown doesn’t work as well.

The LP can be viewed more like a single, with a lead, beat-based track kicking off both sides, and then an “instrumental” version of the same – stripping out the beats. The openers are each quite brilliant, favoring a rather emotional soundscape – ambience which builds towards warm, evolving beats, moods elevated and contrasted with synth rhythms. On a more bombastic album, these songs might get lost; isolated like this, they’re very powerful. Backing up each are some straight ambience: Detroit People Mover was kind of a pause in flow when it appeared on Be Up A Hello, but echoing opener The Paris Track’s melodies (or at least that’s how it feels), it’s an interesting coda, though it does feel like it ends abruptly. On the B-side, the connection is more direct: Midi Sans Frontieres appears “avec Batterie” and then without, but the function is the same on side A: head-bobbing, and then a delicate coda.

Digitally, this isn’t as effective. Firstly, though we get an additional track – the gentle guitar strums of Les Mains Dansent – its brevity and tonal stillness aren’t good for the sequencing, positioned right after Detroit. Then, without the physical pause provided by vinyl, Lamental is heard not as a 2-sided single but as the EP which its title claims; Midi Sans Frontieres and its followup aren’t enough to give the EP shape which makes the openers make sense.

As an interesting side note, I found one review mentioning this EP’s new material as a response to Brexit; something to consider as affecting its sound.