There are a number of beginning reference points, however rudimentary, that spring to mind when confronted with the first listen through Closed Circuit: hermetically sealed Velvet Underground rehearsal tapes, John Cale’s more wild moments, the Elephant 6 collective if they had a pill habit, Brian Eno’s vocal whine, even snatches of The Cure’s elegiac loveliness. I promptly realized that these reference points were inadequate in that they only captured tiny Polaroid (RIP) moments, rather than the twitching, living whole. When I threw away these unhealthy preconceptions, I was left with this, a record that is just as applicable listening for a disorienting ride through long underground tunnels then out into the sunlight in a dark blue car, as it is for a quiet night alone where the only other sound is the curtains rustling softly in the autumn breeze.
It’s all whispered and squawked singsong instinctive phrasing backed by insectoid guitar, cranky keyboards and insistent drones. With any manner of miscellaneous noises and voices seeping through. This new confusion. Then somehow, someway, around “King in the Clown’s New Clothes,” a pastoral lament with a sudden, jarring ending about a minute in (too soon), the whole tone of the album shifts into a series of epic junkshop Scott Walker swoons. Fabulous. Synth and piano, gently played and longingly atmospheric, dominate these incredible songs. They stretch out, unhurried, far into a dreamland horizon, filling my 3 AM musings with an outpouring of pure light from a kerosene lamp. Strange and wonderful.
Emperor Jones: http://www.southern.com/southern/label/EMJ