- Lots of techno artists go anonymous, but few do it with as much cheek as Gesloten Cirkel. The shadowy figure's Discogs page describes him simply as "producer based in Russia," but his SoundCloud puts him on the Heard and McDonald Islands, a volcanic archipelago halfway between Antarctica and Madagascar. It's tempting to think he's actually Dutch—he DJs on Intergalactic FM, has appeared mostly on Dutch labels, and his name is (presumably) a reference to When I Sold My Soul To The Machine, a documentary about DJs in The Netherlands, in which I-F calls mainstream culture a "gesloten cirkel," or "closed circle."
His sound, too, smacks of The Hague. Gesloten Cirkel makes slamming, electro-flavored techno that's as playful as it is heavy. Brutal drums and grim atmospheres are offset by demented melodies, campy sci-fi samples or, in the case of his self-titled track from 2009, the sound of a rooster crowing. Submit X, his first full-length and his fourth release overall, elevates this style to something even more singular.
Like Gesloten Cirkel's best past efforts ("Yamagic," "Twisted Balloon"), Submit X is pummeling, funky and coated in grease (Hard Wax called it "straight from the sewer"). But here the style is bolder than it was before. "Arrested Development" is built around a soaring heavy metal guitar lead. "Stakan," with its disaffected vocals and tinny, metronomic drums, sounds like an old darkwave 7-inch. Heard out of context, "Chatters" could be mistaken for something from the indie-synth band Broadcast.
And yet, despite all this stylistic promiscuity, Submit X is a storming techno record through and through. Ferocious rhythms have always been Gesloten Cirkel's strong point, and here the beats are more threatening than ever, thanks mostly to their electro-style syncopation. "Zombie Machine," "Vader" and "Arrested Development" barrel forth with the crazed gallop of a rabid animal. And then there's "Submit X," the album's title track and pièce de résistance, whose first 16 bars alone have some of the most thrilling techno drum patterns I've ever heard.
Vocal samples add streaks of color to these gravelly arrangements. On "Feat Liette," dusty loops from what sounds like a Russian pop oldie form an eerie counterpoint to a stomping acid house beat. On "Submit X," the words "thousand" and "X" are repeated ad infinitum in a beautifully cavernous robot voice, heaping melody and vivid texture onto an already unstoppable techno bomb. Submit X is a lot of things—fierce, catchy, brimming with personality. But most importantly, it's just an absurdly badass techno record.
01. Zombiemachine Acid
03. Submit X
07. Feat Liette
08. Arrested Development
09. Secret Area