Chaos isn’t just a theory on Colossal Squid’s debut album; it’s a state of being. Creator Adam Betts maintains the anarchy for nearly 36 minutes straight, without resorting to backing tracks or leaning on laptops most of the time. Computers are merely cogs in the tool kit Betts has built around his beloved drum set on this record—a master class in man-versus-machine dynamics which blurs the line between the two entirely.
To quote one of the most popular songs on Betts’ last solo LP (Colossal Squid’s origin story, essentially), Swungert is total “Hero Shit” through and through, because of course it is; the guy’s other gig (the tricked-out power trio Three Trapped Tigers) was last seen working alongside Brian Eno and Underworld’s Karl Hyde. Betts has also been hand-selected for special projects by Squarepusher (the jittery jazz-funk quartet Shobaleader One), Goldie (the drum ‘n’ bass don’s first proper album in 19 years), and Jarvis Cocker (a cheeky new project called Jarv Is) in recent years, setting the stage for Swungert quite nicely.
True to its psychotropic Russell Taysom album art, the record can feel absolutely restless at times; it’s like listening to Dan Deacon producing Lightning Bolt. This proves especially true on its twitchy opener, a trigger-happy workout showcasing Colossal Squid’s human side. A revolving door of manic guest musicians certainly don’t hurt matters either. While AK Patterson and Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs sound as if they’re two steps away from the precipice, Saint Saviour pumps the brakes on a couple palate cleansers that dial the neon down a bit and let a little melancholy in. “I Lost Detroit” is a particularly strong halfway point, a bittersweet triumph building to a blustery climax that could bring an entire mountain down. Idiosyncratic and intense, it gets straight to the heart of Colossal Squid’s appeal: transcendence.