A few things have changed since we last heard from Jeremy Shaw. He’s moved from Vancouver to Berlin, and from the defunct Output label to his new home at !K7; both onstage and in the studio, Shaw’s bandmates play a greater role than ever in Circlesquare.
But a few crucial things haven’t changed. Circlesquare’s music still offers a woozy fusion of the electronic, the electric and the acoustic. It’s still as slow and sure as a Codeine drip.
And as the title suggests, carnal pleasure and out-of-body trips remain Shaw’s steadfast reference points.
Lead single “Dancers” is the perfect entryway into Circlesquare’s lopsided and alluring world. With its drooping guitars and half-speed chug, it feels like dancing with melted bones, illuminated by the world’s most lurid disco ball.
It’s also an excellent introduction to Circlesquare’s expanding sound: while still cloaked in Shaw’s prince-of-darkness synths and his unforgettable voice, the music has swollen with the addition of Dave Butterfield’s drums and Trevor Larson’s guitars, which Shaw has cut up and dubbed out in conjuring Circlesquare’s ultimate, (eerily hard to place) sound. It’s neither “electronic” nor “rock,” really, but a celebration of the recording studio itself.
“Dancers” is burnished with a steely gleam, as though Circlesquare’s hybrid sound had been injected with a shot of pure electricity. Ever faithful to the analog spirit of classic synthesizer music, Lowfish isn’t just old-school in sound, but also method: instead of using the separated “stems,” or instrumental parts, from Circlesquare’s original—the standard method for remixes today—Lowfish cut up the whole song before adding his own shuddering drum machines and arpeggios. Paying tribute to the hand-forged edits of classic disco and hip-hop, the remix still sounds like a communiqué from the future.