There was a very short period, around 1996-1997, when you couldn’t tell Richard D. James’ Aphex Twin project from Tom Jenkinson’s Squarepusher project. The two modernist composers share much: a record label (Warp), a jones for jazz and funk styles and a proclivity for turning old-school drum breaks into rapidly stuttering munitions bursts. (James’ “Girl/Boy” and Jenkinson’s “A Journey to Reedham” are non-identical twins, born the length of a drum ’n’ bass roll apart.) The biggest difference between the two men is their working speed: Jenkinson noodles out several almost-there Squarepusher records to every one meticulously assembled Aphex Twin record. For every one of James’ home runs, Jenkinson has hit three solid triples.
The latest such bit of noodling, Just a Souvenir, is a 14-song goof, a set of moist jazz-fusion riffs tweaked on a laptop. The best of these are the prog-rock burner “Delta-V,” which is as close to a headbanger as Jenkinson has ever come; “Potential Govaner,” a schizophrenic bit of bass and distorted guitar jamming that has an unexpected funky snap; and “The Glass Road,” a seven-minute prog-jazz epic that works itself into a punkish tizzy.
While Just a Souvenir is far from Squarepusher’s best record and even further from approaching the best of Aphex Twin, it is highly listenable fun—and it’s here now, on third base, waiting to be batted in.