Review: Gesloten Cirkel – Submit X

Gesloten Cirkel - Submit X

Submit X is the first full-length release from Gesloten Cirkel (GC), who, like so many techno artists these days, guards his anonymity. In this case, even the artist’s country of origin is unknown. Musically, however, his feet are firmly planted in the Netherlands. Take, for instance, “Chatters.” Undoubtedly the most eccentric track on the album, it is more synth pop than techno, reminiscent of Dutch artist Das Ding. While it has a convincing lo-fi, basement production sound, GC plays with the synth lead in ways that would be difficult, if not impossible, to pull off on a traditional keyboard synth. It thereby executes something of an electronic deconstruction of a synth pop song.

Other tracks evince a strong Electronic Body Music influence. “Vader” for instance, features a bass riff reminiscent of Belgian EMB pioneers Front 242. Yet, this riff is set to hard-driving bleeps and drums that recall the Hague’s Bunker label. Of course, GC is not the only artist around these days looking to the Hague. L.I.E.S. records founder Ron Morelli states in an interview “I’m still trying to catch up to those [Bunker] dudes.” Yet, there is no doubt that GS is among the leading lights of this revival, as Morelli also states in the same interview, “that guy Gestolean Cirkel [sic] made some sick cuts that were somewhat reminiscent of that time and I was just listening to some unreleased Stinkworx stuff that could stand up to any of those cuts from the 90s.” Whereas Morelli and the L.I.E.S. artists generally are picking up on the more experimental side of the Hague movement, GS takes up the driving assault of the Bunker sound in a more dance oriented direction. It’s hard to see any L.I.E.S. artist making the likes of “Secret Area” with its bouncy sci-fi dance party sound.

As noted elsewhere, the name “Gesloten Cirkel,” which is Dutch for “closed circle,” probably comes from the documentary We Sold Our Souls to the Machine, wherein a Bunker DJ, speaking about Christmas celebrations, declares that they are a closed circle of people enjoying watching themselves on TV enjoying themselves. Taking this with the bit of decipherable verbal content on the album, it is evident that there is a critical message, that mass culture is a “zombie machine” with cultural products that ask more or less directly “where’s your cash?” But this is music for those of us to stand outside the closed circle and look on. Or so we’d like to think.