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Closed Circuits - Lucifer

Handing over the mic to artists/musicians who break down their new albums track by track/share the thought process behind the creation. Today we’ll hear from Chris Page, aka Closed Circuits, whose work brings to mind both Leonard Cohen and Coil.

Closed Circuits has quietly self-released a handful of killer albums in recent years, interlacing the crunch and noise stab of industrial music with sparse songwriting anchored by Page’s deep baritone. I first encountered Page via his vocal contributions to London-based chameleonic producer Imaginary Forces’ Filth Columnist album – deeply shamanesque intonations that sound every bit as omniscient as Julian Cope’s narrative on SunnO)))’s ‘My Wall’. – Tristan Bath / The Quietus

Lucifer is out now on In Finite Records.

Don’t forget to browse our archives….


Lucifer is a work of Fire. It is the fourth in a five album cycle, working through the elements. Previous albums have been Breaker (Water), Ascender (Air), and Encoder (Space). The final work will be called Returner, and will be Earth. After that, I will have to decide if I want to keep doing this, so catch it while you can.

It’s not a recommended way to work, since playing with fire, in this or any instance, does tend to get you burned. And watching huge areas of the planet engulfed in flame during the recording process made for a suitably apocalyptic backdrop. So I am glad that it is done.

Lucifer is the dawn-bringer. And His focus led me to interrogate things like depression, addiction, compulsion, liberty, and will. All the fun stuff! The Devil trump in the tarot was probably where I was positioning a lot of the themes, and works like Hubert Selby Jr’s The Demon, and Kim Jee-woon’s I Saw The Devil played into this also. There’s a list of influences that you can find on my social media homes, if you are so inclined.

Everything was done with just Ableton and a microphone. I don’t have speakers or any real kind of studio, alas, so it was a process of working when I could in our apartment, with the hope that the neighbours or street-noise didn’t interfere with the recording. So without further ado, here are the tracks


Lucifer

It’s good to start with a bang, but even better to start with several. I knew I wanted a big bass throb after the sex. Though I rarely end up playing live, I imagined this on a proper system, perhaps because of my previous life attending FWD and DMZ clubs in London. Indeed, much of what I do is probably informed by having been a regular at Trash club, and then later going to FWD as much as possible.

The vocals come in at an odd pitch. This was not intended. I have no idea why or how this happened, but I ended up having to reload the whole program to fix it. But then, if you call an album Lucifer, what do you expect?

Like all the songs, the music was essentially made in one go, and then it refused to budge, so I worked with it as best I could. I tend to have little say in this matter, and couldn’t tell you too much about what I did musically. The vocals, though, became a sort of conversation between Lucifer and some part of me. And I think my attitude to letting magic into your life is maybe best summed up in the chorus couplet :

Oh look at the damage you’ve done
I wonder if it’s enough?


Conflagration Names

Starting as a dirge, it switches up into something more upbeat whilst retaining the tempo. I believe there is some ocarina or pan-pipes in this one. Always a winner. I remember being pleased with the instrumental, and wondering if I would be able to carry its power into a vocal-led track. Whether I succeeded or not is up for debate, but again, it’s the vocals that I get the most say in when it comes to how the songs manifest themselves.

In the end, I decided on a fairly distorted take, which could be another conversation of sorts, this time as a conjuration takes place. It’s a dance of power, or an attempt at seduction, with the spirit looking for the upper hand:

You know you want it
It’s all you need
Now repeat it back to me

Eventually, the will of the conjurer wins out, and the demands come in a wave of release :

Distort the channels and fuck the transmission
Corrupt the power and bring us all the joy


Personas

Perhaps too many of these songs start with a weird intro that leads onto something else? I don’t know. But I knew I wanted some brushed drums here. Also, there is a bassline that eventually comes in that reminded me of The Cure’s Lullaby. I wasn’t sure I wanted to keep that, but it insisted, so there it is.

I do try and write pop songs much of the time. They don’t seem to end up that way very often, but here is another attempt. The refrain of “everyday” and its melody lodged itself in my head, so I had to write that in to satisfy it. The song became about depression and addiction, and dealing with those things in the context of a relationship. In that way, it is almost confessional : There’s a memory of a wound that keeps me restless… And yet, I have been told that the song comes on as “euphoric”.

It was initially called Acts : Masks, but was retitled after rewatching Bergman’s Persona. Probably another ocarina in there somewhere.


Starred

My problems with astrology are less to do with its veracity as a system, and more with some adolescent sense of not wanting to be told who I am by anyone, least of all a bunch of fiery balls of gas. But here we are. So lyrically, this becomes a quest for wanting to break free of unwanted authorities, whilst acknowledging the need for support. Another haunted dialogue.

And another pulse works its way through this song, but here in more of a mid-range, which, despite being the most spacious of the songs, made it a complete bastard to mix. To be fair though, the whole album was a nightmare on that front.

This one also contains samples from Logan Sama’s last show for Rinse FM. You should check that out. It’s awesome.


Neon Suns

The last track to be completed, due again to the nightmare of mixing it (cf. no speakers or proper set up). It was also a track that sat there for a long time, as it had basically formed itself musically as it is now, but I had no idea how to fit vocals onto it, nor retain what I felt was its impact into a finished form.

Lyrically, Peter Grey from Scarlet Imprint publishers very kindly allowed me use of his “Walnut Charm” from an essay in his book with Alkistis Dimech, A Brazen Vessel. When I had read this, it had deeply resonated, and working it into the static clouds again took time to get right.

As the song progresses, a “speak and spell” voice doubles the vocals – eventually becoming the dominant entity. This is to carry the charm into the digital systems, working its way through the electrical currents and deeper into the mainframe. I felt that if the voice was robotic, perhaps it would be able to move more freely around that system. Also, I like how it sounds. It is the second time I have employed this type of voice for a spell, with the first being on Leper Hearts from .156.

Check out Scarlet Imprint’s A Brazen Vessel here : https://scarletimprint.com/publications/the-brazen-vessel


Revelations

Another ‘pop’ song. This one I wrote in as “pop” a form as I could. But then it had other ideas, and decided to progressively destroy itself. So the song became about climate catastrophe.
Multiple vocals going on, as there are on most of the songs, now that I think about it. Here, the first part begins like a radio call, in a kind of “last broadcast” reprimand. The criticism becomes reflexive as the song progresses, and the chorus works the elements again for a charmingly apocalyptic set of couplets :

Tear down the ground from you
And bring waves to calmest blue
Watch all the skies fade to grey
And let it burn all away

And I wonder why I don’t get played on the radio.
Eventually, the vocals, and the song, is subsumed beneath static. Which on the next track, I try and reclaim as a means of power and liberation.

An invocation. One that looks to the power inherent in every listener, and calls it forth. Perhaps that’s why it has trumpets that remind me, on some level of my psyche, of the Rocky theme? Except if Rocky was set on antediluvian Mount Hermon instead of seventies Philadelphia. I’ll wait for Aronofsky to announce a Noah prequel before I send him my pitch.

I knew it had to build, and again, that made mixing it a complicated business, as various frequencies begin to fly around as it progresses. But I think it has a potency that carries through.

This would be one for the live show, so once we’re through what we’re going through, any promoters are welcome to get in touch!


Ashes

And so it ends. The music had been there for some time, and eventually I worked out how to turn it into a song.
The vocals were recorded, and then the piano added to illustrate them, so there’s no structured timings going on. A lot of Max-MSP on this one, which was new to experiment with on this album.
The tale it tells is rather bittersweet, as is the way with endings. But I feel that it completes things well, returning them to the start in a way. Here again, the memory of a wound appears, perhaps not as integrated as had been hoped. But acknowledged, at least :
And in the ashes
I can see the truth
But pretend I was perfect
Pretend I was good
 
Thank you for listening.

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