SQUAREPUSHER with MOUNT KIMBIE at the Danforth Music Hall (147 Danforth), Friday (November 2), doors 9 pm. $27.50. RT, SS, TM. See listing.
It can be daunting talking to a musician like Tom Jenkinson. Gigging since his teens and with over a dozen releases as Squarepusher since 1994 (including this year's Ufabulum), the English electronic musician is beyond capable.
Over the phone, though, Jenkinson, while frighteningly astute, is disarmingly forthcoming. He speaks in lovely, complete sentences, his thoughtfulness rounded out by a hint of cheek.
"Sensible people try to influence me, and occasionally it works," he says wryly, recapping a somewhat splashy recent show in London. "It feels good to make [a hometown show] as good as it can be by bringing in the extra elements for the visual side of an audio-visual show."
Ufabulum, released on Warp in May and devoid of live instrumentation, was conceived as both a recording and a live experience, two products inextricably linked.
"I tried to visually record what I was imagining while making each track," explains Jenkinson, who is synesthetic, meaning the stimulation of one of his senses involuntarily triggers the stimulation of another. "The point is to foster a connection, whatever the nature, between the sound and the music."
He gives an example linked to childhood: the distinct memory of the humming of a Ferris wheel motor: "Certain steady-state tones remind me of a slow, massive object rotating.
"But I do also think there are connections that are far less easy to quantify that come up spontaneously, and they aren't any less valid. In fact, they're more interesting."
That spontaneous approach is reflected in his recording trajectory. His music is rooted in breakbeat, but over the years Jenkinson has refurbished and deconstructed the form, sometimes beyond recognition, moving through acid, drum and bass, two-step and more, strategically wielding his imagination all the way.
He's a bit like the man behind the curtain, though he's more benevolent than nefarious.
"What still fascinates me about music is the way you can access and - without meaning to sound strange - manipulate people's emotions. Having feelings triggered by a musical experience fascinates me.
"It's uncanny how you can make a certain adjustment to a chord progression and it'll change the mood dramatically."