Crappy photo, good band. Circle of Dust was Klayton’s last project before he started working under the alias of Celldweller. Klayton is basically a one-man band like Trent Reznor; he writes and performs his own material in studio but has musicians that support him on tour in the same way that Trent Reznor worked with guitarist Richard Patrick. But I have heard conflicting reports about Circle of Dust’s history. I’ve heard that Circle of Dust was an actual band with multiple people working in studio until their final release, Disengage, which was Klayton working on his own. I have also heard that the band was always just Klayton and no one else, except when playing live. The second theory seems more likely since Circle of Dust is described as a “solo project” on Celldweller’s website. Either way, I’ll be featuring Disengage, which I’m certain is just Klayton.
First of all, I’ve heard stories about Disengage from my good friend who is also a big time Klayton fan. Apparently, Circle of Dust originally intended to release 10 tracks as Disengage and 6 extra tracks, which mixed together different tracks from the previous 10, as remix album called Refractorchasm. But Circle of Dust’s label, Platinum Ent., would not allow this, so all 16 tracks were combined onto one CD. Klayton has often declared that the first 10 tracks make up the official Disengage album whereas the final 6 are bonus tracks on the CD. That’s say that the final 6 are any weaker than the first 10. If I’ve learned anything from Klayton’s approach to music, it’s that there are many different ways to approach a composition and none of them are necessarily better than any of the others. In fact, when Celldweller tours, they do live remixes of their material. So if you went to three of his shows, you would likely hear three new takes on one song. I’ve heard at least a trillion different versions of “Switchback” (Celldweller’s single) from the 2-disc B-sides collection, The Beta Cessions.
Getting back to Circle of Dust, they sound a lot different than Celldweller in that the former would be classified as industrial whereas the latter would be classified as synth metal. Therefore, Disengage is darker and more aggressive than anything that Klayton would produce under his later alias but is still evocatively beautiful.
The album starts off really well with “Waste of Time”, a relatively fast-paced song that will immediately get your head nodding. I’m especially fond of the beautifully harmonized chorus that has an ethereal quality to it. I almost put that song up as a sample track until I decided that “Chasm” would be a better option since it was the more hyped track off of the album. It’s basically Disengage‘s “Switchback”. Not that the two songs sound alike. As previously stated, Circle of Dust’s material is darker than anything Celldweller has produced. Despite being dark, “Chasm” manages to break out of the gloomy depths of the industrial stereotype and comes out as a catchy, uptempo song that is guaranteed to stick in your head. Me and my friends like to repeat the line, “You are fragile!” as it is delivered in the song. Of the 6 bonus tracks, “Refractor (Version 3.2.1)” is my personal favorite. It takes the original “Refractor” and expands upon it in ways that ultimately produce a more fulfilling song. Although the original “Refractor” is highly enjoyable in its own right.
“Mesmerized” is one of my personal favorites and is the track that really got me hooked on Disengage. It’s much less aggressive than some of the other tracks but the deep, reverberating bass and the heavy percussion gives this song an undeniably epic, yet gloomy quality. Klayton’s delivers an especially moving vocal perfomance as well, sounding downtrodden and utterly defeated as he sings. It all adds up to a very moving track.
This is a weird reference, but when I first heard “Mesmerized” and couldn’t make out the lyrics, thus relying completely on how it sounded, I imagined the cathedral from the first Fallout game. I imagined the cathedral as it might appear in real life or in a movie. It may be because “Mesmerized” somehow reminded me of a Gregorian chant; deep, bellowing, and sounding pretty dark and depressing from a modern perspective. Add to that an industrial soundscape, distorted guitars, and synth produced sounds and you get what I imagined as the cathedral from Fallout: a structure of grand design yet dark and forboding as it was tainted by the evils of technology.
I have a lot more that I could say about how “Mesmerized” made me think about Fallout and its symbolism, but that would make me a nerd. I don’t want to be a nerd. So let’s just finish by saying that Disengage is an incredible album. If you like Celldweller and want to hear some of Klayton’s older material, this is a good starting point.
Buy Circle of Dust’s album Disengage
Circle of Dust – Chasm Circle of Dust – Mesmerized Circle of Dust – Refractor (Version 3.2.1)
There is no official Circle of Dust webpage anymore. However, there is a little bit about them at BNR Metal.
Bonus KRUD: Rainer Maria
Rainer Maria – Soul Singer (Live)