Album Review – Circle of Dust – Disengage (Remastered) 1998/2016

Availability: Spotify, Bandcamp, YouTube, FiXT Store, and Amazon (original edition)

*Disengage was the last album Scott Albert worked on as Circle of Dust before going on to become Celldweller, and worked as an independent artist  the following year, in 1999. It was in 1998 that the record label, R.E.X lost everything, due to a botched take over from another company called Platinum, and as a consequence, Albert lost the rights to his industrial metal project, and had to move on. Disengage is the second album, under the Circle of Dust alias that contains the early stages of what would become Celldweller; the first being Argyle Park, for Disengage contains the qualities of electro-industrial, and slowly abandoning the industrial and thrash metal qualities found in the earlier albums.

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Waste of Time, the opening track of the album is a substantial dose of post-industrial, uniting industrial and industrial dance (otherwise known as electro-industrial), as well as presenting the inclusion of other EDM, notably breakbeat. Underneath all the electronic music, nu and industrial metal is used as undertone, drawn to pay tribute to a past that Scott Albert was coming to abandon. The acoustic version featured on the deluxe edition’s second disc, is a shortened demo track. The acoustic setting of the electric guitar seems to experimentally construct what would become the electronic instrumental. Whilst Klayton is playing around with his voice; teasing certain notes, to find out which will work best. Refactor starts a fast paced, rhythmic electronic rock track, reminiscent of Circle of Dust’s debut album (1992) and Celldweller’s debut (2003), however transcends into a lulled electro-industrial rock genre. The track’s lyrical content speaks of willing submission, whether it is sex, religious ideology or society is up to interpretation. Version 3.2.1, a remixed demo contains a more electronic dance music (EDM) inflection, specifically techno and low fi. This version seems to contain inspiration from the works of Jean Michel Jarre, which appears later in the last lyrical Celldweller album End of the Empire (2015), in the track Heart On.

Yurasuka is a unique mix of lo fi, breakbeat, ambient and trance with nu-metal composition, which unsurprisingly resembles the works of the later contributors to the genre, Limp Bizkit, and Linkin Park; the latter’s albums Hybrid Theory (2000), the remix album Reanimation (2002) and Meteora (2003), containing similar sounds for the greater inclusion of EDM.  The Blue Stahli Remix, as Bret Audrey explained upon the virtual release of the remix on YouTube, was a genre he was unsure how to describe, and he was right in that respect. It’s this beautiful mash of IDM and EDM; and in the foreground I can detect industrial dance, rave, techno, and a lot more, including drum ‘n’ bass. It livens up the original, and gives it a new direction message wise, almost uplifting. Yurstillasuka is a reprise of Yurasuka, an instrumental version with new twists. Babylon, is purely instrumental and what’s intriguing is that the EDM genres that are being used in this track alone, will find themselves in Celldweller’s projects; primarily the Wish upon a Blackstar project, which has been on-going for the last seven years, if you include the completed Soundtrack for the Voices in my Head Vol 3 (2016). Babylon has more in common however, with the space sound themes used in the Transmissions series.

Chasm
is a harmonious techno-industrial metal track, with more in common with gothic industrial/industrial Goth rock, for comparison’s sake, the likes of Dream Disciples (notable tracks Velvethead, Room 57 and Delirium). This song is another of Disengage, which shares similarities with Scott Albert’s debut album, and in fact, could’ve been incorporated deliberately into the tracks Stay with Me (Unlikely) and Unlikely (Stay with Me). Not just for the composition, the evident pure mix of metal, rock and electronics, but for the vocal delivery.  You Are Fragile is an extended, full length track (and may even be an uncredited remix) worked around the sampled ‘you are fragile’, and is focused on the complexed techniques and samplings found in IDM. Version 2.0.1 follows the pattern of Refactor Version 3.2.1, where the slowed, longing lyrical content is transcended into an elevating EDM track, with the grungy essence of industrial because of the distorted vocals. Surprisingly about half way through, 2.0.1 leads into Refactor, revealing that not just the remixes, but the songs are companions to one another, and its narrative continuous.

Thulcandra,
a singular IDM instrumental track, introduces the eeriness of lo-fi, drone and dark ambient, and has strong connections with the roughness and dystopian moods presented in Circle of Dust’s second album, Brainchild (1994). Blindeye steps away from the industrial-drone-ambient hybrid, to escape into industrial metal; with an unexpected electro-house lead in, with shock rock/proto-punk attitude. Albert seems to channel Alice Cooper with the clean, yet raspy vocals.

Mesmerized is an electro-acoustic track, with passions nu-metal like synthesizers and modernized new wave, channeling Depeche Mode, New Order and Tears for Fears (who Scott Albert coincidentally covers in his debut Scandroid album, which was released last Friday, that album itself being synth-wave, a sub-shoot of new wave).  There is also a play with country and alternative rock, from the lulling, rhythmic and crooning vocals. The acoustic version completely exempts the electronic sounds, and seems to amplify the volume of the guitar, allowing the plucked strings’ notes and Albert’s voice to be crystal clear.

Perelandra is the third instrumental song of the album, and a component piece to Thulcandra, however unlike its predecessor, excludes industrial compliment and instead explores space ambient, glitch, and though coincidental, once more carries  nu metal qualities, and again techniques that will be found in Linkin Park’s early works (Reanimation being a key album).  Disengage; a direct follow on from Thulcandra and Perelandra combined, concludes a space themed trilogy, whilst combining the sounds of the previous tracks together – dark ambient, drone and glitch.

Easier to Hate lvl remix, is the third remix is feature the track Refactor, this time around created by Scott Albert’s younger brother, Dan Leveler who works under lvl. Lvl extracts the sampled verse ‘easier to hate’, and shakes up the genre. The genre he uses is simply put, is witch house, a genre of house that is an EDM subgenre of Goth rock and united it with acid house and glitch.  The Alone to Die lvl remix carries through with the same sound, only this time, with Chasm, sampling ‘you made me one of your kind’, and ‘alone to die’, this concluding as the fourth remix.  Hate Open Wide, is the final remix of Chasm and Refactor united, and acts as a spiced interlude, similar to Yurstillasuka. This is the second track, which is inspired by Jean Michel Jarre.

Deadly Love is an intermittent, uncensored version of the track found on the original release of this album, and is of course a playful electronic track with distorted acapella. Machines of Our Disgrace, is the most recent new track since Circle of Dust’s resurrection, initially released in July 2016. It premiered officially with its own music video, and is due to find itself along with Neophyte and Contagion on the up-coming fifth album (sixth, if you include Argyle Park), titled Machines of Our Disgrace, in December 2016. Machine of Our Disgrace has returned to the initial founding sound of industrial thrash, and embodies the harshness of Brainchild and the sophistication of Circle of Dust’s debut (1992).

Your Noise is an acoustic demo, written and composed in 1997, supposedly during the making of this album. Incidentally, it speaks elegiacally of the fast paced and excessive consuming and demanding nature of which humanity was heading at that time, with the popularization, advancement and dependence of technology, and wanting to switch off from it all. Your Noise then is a prelude into Machines of Our Disgrace, which is a critical and skeptic view of technology and the damage it has done.

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