Circle Takes the Square
As the Roots Undo


2.5
average

Review

by Probably the last mimsy USER (9 Reviews)
June 24th, 2010 | 221 replies


Release Date: 2004 | Tracklist


Caution, there be drama ahead!
Ah yes, the now infamous As the Roots Undo. It was once almost unilaterally heralded as the epitome and summit of the “Screamo” genre. That much has changed.

Of course, many users do not like Circle Takes the Square. However, due to the excessive praise and sometimes backlash for disliking it, little to no stage was given for those who do not find it worthy; enter, PrincipiaAesthetica. Suddenly, many users had a platform from which to voice their opinions –either good or bad- about the album, in a dynamic and intellectual manner (most of the time).

Cuts to present day…

All hell has broken loose. Users are pitted against users, and random deletion and possibly even anti-Semitic acts are perpetrated by an unknown Mod against a user (who just so happens to be Principia, now MichaelJordan). Insults are traded; questions raised and dubious changes are made. Amidst the swirling maelstrom is where I find myself. Where do I turn? I once had this album rated as a 4, then a 3, and now a 2.5. Were my changes based off of an actual dislike, or just from picking a side? I revived As the Roots Undo from the dusty untouched regions of my recycle bin, plugged in my headphones and double-clicked the opener, appropriately named “Intro”. I needed to find out for myself…
Argh, the drama be behind us, Captain!

Silence, and then slowly come the sounds of a man whistling; intentionally doing so out of time and off-key at some points. Some whispering in the background, and one can almost picture the scene fitting into a horror movie at times. The whistling continues, so far so good, and runs into the beginning of the next song. It is promptly disrupted by the screaming of “Rejoice!” Let me get something out of the way; I love the instruments most of the time. Sometimes I get completely caught up listening to certain guitar lines or drum patterns. That gets promptly ruined by the warbling tag-team that is Drew Speziale and Kathy Coppola. They weave in and out of the music with an almost complete disregard for the other band members. For a reason that escapes me, both vocalists (calling them singers is pushing it at times) take a collective look between the talent they have and the effort to use it in a manner befitting the music, look back at each other and shrugging say, “f**k it”. It is seriously that big of an obstacle to the album as a whole, being that it is the Drew and Kathy show overpowering the instruments. It is almost at times that the other members get bored with playing their instruments and just diddle around without putting much effort or emotion into the playing (take the ending of Kill the Switch, for example, and listen to it imagining that the drummer was bored).

Now, credit should be given where credit is due. As mentioned previously, the instrumental aspect of this album can be breathtaking at times. The drumming is usually fast and intense, if not spastic and uncoordinated at times. It slows down (such as the midsection of “In the Nervous Light of Sunday”) and can fit the music very nicely. The guitars are almost always well-played and technical as far as my ears can hear. Some lines can be quite beautiful, abstract and haunting, before switching into a jagged riff highlighting the more aggressive parts of the album. The bass is usually fairly well-heard, and adds a certain depth to some areas within the songs that might not be as strong without them. Some of the samples (like the rock-shuffling in “Interview at the Ruins”) can get annoying and detract from the songs, whilst other times they can also add a depth and “echo” to a song (like the beginning of “Non Objective Portrait of Karma”). If nothing else, As the Roots Undo is an expansive record, with many layers and facets that take many listens to uncover. Whether or not the effort is worth the reward, well, that is up to the listener.

Now, let me expound on the term “expansive”. This album is expansive in many ways; it is expansive in that the majority of the songs are over 5 minutes in length. It is expansive in depth and in the layers of sound. Lastly, it is expansive in that ultimately it feels empty. The greatest problem is not that of simplicity or repetition; it is that of ultimately being emotionless and void of feeling. Very rarely do all the members connect and provide an original mood. The two vocalists are detached almost fully from emotions. A similar technique is put to good use in Converge’s Jane Doe,allowing the listener to inject themselves into the tortured frenzy of Jacob Bannon and crew and use their own anger and rage to fill in the blanks. This does not work well for Circle Takes the Square. Their detachment comes across as lazy. The songwriting can be extremely rambling and goalless. Their lyrical concepts hold no water, and gives nothing for the listener to hang their hat on. It is pretension solely for the sake of the writers. Now I do not have the educational background to understand where all of these concepts are taken from, but I know that they do nothing but separate myself and others likewise inclined from the album. This presents the biggest problems with As the Roots Undo. It is much too targeted and as such can come across as empty feeling.

I sit back in my chair as the final strings of “A Crater to Cough In” are plucked, contemplating my feelings. They are torn. On one hand I have the instrumentals (positives); on the other I have the rest (negatives). Taking a metaphorical glance between the two, my decision is made for me. The negatives of this album far outweigh the positives, even as strong as those may be at times. I am left with the same conclusion and rating as I had when I started this review, but now I have gained insight into the dichotomy displayed between users. This album comes across as empty, but not intentionally. There is a strict disconnect between the album and the listener. I suppose the heart of the problem is that I don’t “get” it; the pretension and avant-garde vocals irreparably degrade the music. It seems less a musical expression as much as an experiment in indulgence and excess. As I search for a metaphor for this album, a single word comes to mind: faux. Faux is a French word, meaning “fake” or “false”. It carries connotations of upper-crust verbiage and men in bowler hats exclaiming “Capital!” It fits the album insofar as it is nothing that hasn’t been said better and more concisely, without the affectation. Like many who use that word for the sake of using that word; they aim high yet hit low. Songs like “In The Nervous Light of Sunday” show the best of Circle Takes the Square and what they can be, while other tracks are plagued by chaotic structuring, horrendous (at times, to be fair) vocals and rambling lyrical concepts. To say I hate As the Roots Undo would be a false (faux?) assessment. I enjoy what this group does when they do it well. Sadly though, Circle Takes the Square had too high of aspirations and too low of effort.

Recommended Tracks:

In The Nervous Light of Sunday
Kill the Switch



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user ratings (1863)
Chart.
4.1
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other reviews of this album
1 of

Comments:Add a Comment 
Counterfeit
June 24th 2010


17819 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

I like dis rating.

BigHans
June 24th 2010


26454 Comments

Album Rating: 1.0

As I search for a metaphor for this album, a single word comes to mind: faux.

^ yes, Pos.

Emim
June 24th 2010


26625 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

I just wanted to give an honest review and rating for this.


Edit: damn double post. And thanks guys, sup dre

Prolapse
June 24th 2010


4370 Comments


Good review

ConsiderPhlebas
June 24th 2010


6157 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

Fauxcore. Pos.

Counterfeit
June 24th 2010


17819 Comments

Album Rating: 1.5

OMG. This is a really, really good review. Exactly how I feel. POS.

IsItLuck?
Emeritus
June 24th 2010


4927 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Two questions, "Very rarely do all the members connect and provide an original mood"

What is an original mood?

And how is this emotionless?

Emim
June 24th 2010


26625 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Two questions, "Very rarely do all the members connect and provide an original mood"

What is an original mood?

And how is this emotionless?


I'm going to go all sentimental and call it "feeling". I don't get a feeling out of this album, i.e. why I call it empty and void several times. The emotions feel forced and "faux".

Emim
June 24th 2010


26625 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Muchas gracias, MJ. It's actually the fastest review I've ever written.

Emim
June 24th 2010


26625 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

My internet is running really slow right now. They are actually separated the word doc, but that didn't translate to here I guess.

Lucid
Contributing Reviewer
June 24th 2010


7026 Comments


This is the best negative review, well done.

Digging: Perfume Genius - Too Bright

iarescientists
June 24th 2010


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

read the first sentence then stopped

can someone please criticize this album without bringing up its reputation?

Emim
June 24th 2010


26625 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Its reputation being called into question is why this review exists. So, no.



You should read the rest.

H61
June 24th 2010


270 Comments


This review is too focused on Sputnik, makes it look amateurish

and the controversy around this album is reaaaaaaaaally boring now, please stop guys

Emim
June 24th 2010


26625 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

A little under a tenth of the review talked about sputnik.

Pizza
June 24th 2010


687 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

this review would be much better without all of the bullshit of why you wrote it.

iarescientists
June 24th 2010


5863 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Its reputation being called into question is why this review exists. So, no.


well i feel like people simply rejecting this because of its reputation is just as bad as people accepting it because of its reputation

Emim
June 24th 2010


26625 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Mhmmm, if you say so. And whose alt are you?

well i feel like people simply rejecting this because of its reputation is just as bad as people accepting it because of its reputation


I have done neither. I listened to the album several times both in and out of order and gave my honest review as the result.

Tits McGee
June 24th 2010


1876 Comments


Honestly if you took out the stuff about the reputation of the album, this would be a good review. Seriously, be more objective and go from what you hear. Nobody cares about the rep or what the fuck mj did. Also:

"And whose alt are you?"


lolwut. nice assumption

Emim
June 24th 2010


26625 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Honestly if you took out the stuff about the reputation of the album, this would be a good review. Seriously, be more objective and go from what you hear. Nobody cares about the rep or what the fuck mj did.


It is why I wrote the review and MJ was the catalyst for opinions being brought up against the album.



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