CD, Hive Records, 2007
After four years Canadian Matt Rosen returns with a new Liar’s Rosebush solo album. Following releases on Immanence and Hive Records, Rosen has built up a strong following around the North American industrial scene. Hive feels it is time everyone else got the chance to experience his unique brand of hard electronics and, with that in mind, they bring you “Circle the Squares.”
Pretty much unclassifiable in any one given genre, “Circle the Squares” draws influence from a wide array of styles ranging from industrial and breakcore through to ambient, dub and electro-acoustics. The resultant mix is diverse and multi-faceted, but it is also carefully pieced together in such a way that opposing styles sit side by side without clashing. Take a track like “Sick of You” that mixes funky cut-up guitar with weird electronic wails and jittery abstract beats and metallic breaks; on paper it sounds like it should never work but in reality it is quite a melancholy yet, at the same time, energetic mix. This contradiction of styles and sounds continues from track to track, a mixture of gentler moods with a hyperactive energetic accompaniment. While that may sound like a cacophonous mix, the result is actually surprisingly well realised. A myriad of styles is represented in a relatively short space of time; for example “Beneath the Surface Part 2” mixes bouncy junglistic beats with a massive abstract distorted version of itself. “Irrational Word Sequence” is entirely more rhythmic but still manic and energised, never stopping for a breath and becoming subtly distorted as it progresses. It is nuances such as these, and Rosen’s ability to take a fairly simple theme for a track and twist, manipulate and distort it into something entirely different, which make this album fascinating. “Irrational Word Sequence” features exactly that, a manipulated stream of repeated words that has a captivating and instantly addictive quality. There are also times when Rosen chooses to let the gentler themes shine through; the first couple minutes of “ΔΔΔ” are largely atmospheric and steadily drifting, hinting at the subtler aspects of Rosen’s music. After the brief ambient tease at the start of “ΔΔΔ” it is back to business with “Series and Parallel,” which resembles a significantly tweaked “Imperial March” from “Star Wars.” You don’t get more diverse than ambient to breakcore to soundtrack to abstract breaks and beyond in the space of just two tracks!
Trying to label Rosen’s music is pointless, as it encompasses such a wide and varied mix of sounds and styles. It certainly falls at the hard electronic or breakcore end of things but beyond that it also shows some originality. His method of combining these styles is quite impressive, never letting any given track become in any way repetitive, constantly twisting and turning, experimenting and manipulating ideas around a theme.
— Paul Lloyd