Circlesquare: Fight Sounds EP

Can't say I know why actor Mark Lester (most famous for his role in the 1968 film Oliver!) graces the cover of Circlesquare's Fight Sounds EP, though Lester does seemingly scrawl the group's logo on his hand. No matter: Vancouverite Jeremy Shaw's half-hour follow-up to 2003's Pre-Earthquake Anthem sounds fine no matter the cover concept. The darkness and sadism (e.g., the masochistic mantra “When you bleed / You're oh so pretty” Shaw utters at one point) that lurks within his seductive gothtronica comes most lethally to the forefront on “Fight Sounds Part 1,” an incredible construction of pulsating martial beats and throbbing bass lines topped by a deliciously lascivious vocal that sounds like your worst nightmare come to life and hell-bent on stalking your every move.

He then clothes the track in different garb for the remainder of the disc and, though the varied approaches maintain interest, none displaces the original. Immediately following the stunning opener, he spotlights his echo-laden voice on the laid-back “97 and 02” before initiating a 14-minute quartet of variations that includes sexy bleep-house, an instrumental slow-builder of tribal riffs and vocal grunts, and intricate vocal counterpoint that riffs off the core lyric (“Baby turn the lights down / This is strictly fight sounds”). Apparently Shaw, also notorious for the art exhibit DMT (an 8-channel video installation showing people high on the hyper-hallucinogenic drug with subtitles cataloguing their experiences after they've come down), plans to extend the EP's sound to his second full-length, tentatively planned for a 2006 release. An entire album of songs as strong as the opener would be awesome.

January 2006