Gesloten Cirkel, Submit X

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[Murder Capital]

Gesloten Cirkel has the guts and disregard for “good taste” that allows him to successfully start his debut album with two versions of the same track. We should expect no less from Murder Capital, a Viewlexx subsidiary label beloved for its punk attitude, having risen from a context of squats and pirate radio. Cirkel, who came to notoriety with his 12″ for Moustache Techno in 2011, is Murder Capital’s only new artist in the last decade — a fact that attaches an uncommon amount of expectation to a normally straightforward scene. That punk attitude seems to dictate unambitious music — not necessarily in a bad way, but squat techno usually requires an amount of mindless aggression. Cirkel is definitely aggressive, but Submit X is also an incredibly nuanced, diverse effort.

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One of the most impressive things about an artist like, say, Levon Vincent, is how it sounds like his music was created on an actual dance floor, with a wide dynamic range, and hiss and echo creating the feeling of a “room.” This is absolutely true of Cirkel’s production style on Submit X. Every track on the record sounds utterly pumped out, and busting at the audible seams, though it is never sloppy. The title track is a kind of furious, feral Miami bass, engineered with the up-and-down waviness associated with deep LFOs or sidechain compression. Cirkel doesn’t seem like the type to spend much time fine-tuning, but this dynamism perfectly suits the track’s Art Of Noise-style vocal manipulation (with so much funk in the little pause between “submit…” and “x”) all the same. The palette throughout is otherwise stark in a very European way, conjuring the desolate and neon-hued zones common to Eckhart Schmidt films, or Angst (and Klaus Schulze’s brooding soundtrack), or Benny’s Video. Robert Turman is an American, but his drained Beyond Painting album could be another sonic touchstone. Submit X works because it balances the impulses of hooky club (or car) music with these implicitly bleak worldviews.

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It does this from start to finish, through both reckless, relentless versions of “Zombiemachine” and the eroding 8-bit workout of “Chatters.” Cirkel nails some essential, elusive part of EBM on “Feat Liette,” which is kind of like a more acidic Liasons Dangereueses fronted by one of those Marlene Dietrich cabaret singers, but then run through the artist’s blender so the arrangement cuts and shifts with her hesitations. The beat itself is an insistent body pummel, with hi-hats that practically convulse. The anemic, dead-eyed minimal wave of “Stakan” capitalizes on the vocoder’s hidden menace, utilizing the instrument for its chilling refrain, while “Arrested Development” is arpeggiated, shivering, shuddering space techno. Like that Moustache Techno 12″, this album has enough moments of nastiness that it will transcend the typical Clone/Dutch West Coast fanbase. Cirkel’s talent is nearly impossible to deny.

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