That Jeremy Shaw is from Canada isn’t much of a clue to the music he makes. Sure, there’s a fair share of electro/dance acts from there (most notably Junior Boys) but the colder, more austere side to electronic music has its roots in Germany. Unsurprisingly, therefore, Shaw recorded ‘Songs About Dancing And Drugs’ in Berlin.
Most songs feature stuttering drums, understated beats and some very icy, almost spoken-word vocals. Some of it is very impressive. ‘Dancers’ could only feasibly be danced to by robots but its precise rhythms are almost sensual in their execution, whilst ‘Hey You Guys’ begins slowly but soon disappears into a void of effects and ghostly harmonies.
The one true moment of warmth is reserved for ‘Music For Satelliites’ as a lonely guitar and some ambient passages create a gentle atmosphere that borders on the romantic. Finally, ‘All Live But The Ending’ takes its time – thirteen minutes in fact – but its relentlessness and sense of loneliness is performed well.
Given the rather basic instrumentation employed on the record, some songs seem trapped in their own self-imposed minimalism; blessed with plenty of cool but little in the way of hooks. I envisage Circlesquare’s music being played at fashion shows and art events but back in the bedroom it only makes its mark half the time.