1000 Albums Project


Decompositions: Volume Number One, by Circle takes the Square
Suggested by Rob Wagner

According to Wikipedia, Circle takes the Square are a Screamo outfit.

For the uninitiated, Screamo is “an aggressive subgenre of emo that emerged in the early 1990’s emphasising wilfully experimental dissonance and dynamics.”

Great. More “Experimental” music.

The Wiki page goes on to list the seminal Screamo bands, none of which I recognise, and adds pictures of what appear to be fourteen-year-old hipsters holding microphones, mouths open, eyes shining.

I’ve never felt so old.

Who knows, maybe this will knock my socks off. I’ve loosened my orthopaedic shoes just in case.

Circle takes the Square offer us a grindcore style with almost prog pretentions in places. It also flits between styles, not as much as to be overwhelming, but enough to jar you from total emersion, like a repeated snooze alarm on your day off. While there is a bushel of folk influences through the quieter parts, the heavier sections are much more precise. It feels mathematical, measured, even geometric. Circle takes the Square and adds a Hexagon and a Triangle.

The vocals are of particular interest. Both founding members step up to the plate and sing, each surfing effortlessly through multiple styles, sometimes in the same song. It’s chaotic, and admittedly exciting, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this album. Male and Female folk warblings melts into male and female sub-death growling. My dislike of the death metal vocal style is well documented, but I can see its worth as an accent rather than a full costume, and the songs here that visit Death Valley rather than reside there are the standout tracks.

Sadly, those tracks are the exception rather than the rule. Far too much of this album is concentrated on the scream behind screamo. And even in the songs that modulate between vocal styles and singers, it feels a little rushed, as well as somehow juvenile. Maybe I’m getting old, but certain vocals sound like misguided and hostile A-Level practical compositions created to give Mr Clarke the music teacher a nervous tick.

As usual, I can’t overlook the vocal style at play. My favourite song, the album’s final track North Star, Inverted, is a stark contrast to the rest. It’s much more conservative, much more vanilla, and no real indicator to the sound of the album as a whole. I can’t recommend an album that growls and grinds away without raising an eyebrow, then signs off with a decent song that does nothing but remind me of what could have been.

I give this 4/10. Circle takes the Biscuit.

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