Peter Jefferies' solo debut following his involvement in the New Zealand post-punk underground groups Nocturnal Projections and This Kind of Punishment was eloquently titled The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World. An exquisite collection of songs rendered in varying degrees of low fidelity, the album drew parallels to the desolate solo work of John Cale, Kevin Ayers, and Robert Wyatt. It mixed post-punk experimentalism with piano-driven ballads, in parts calling to mind the Velvet Underground and Brian Eno's Here Come the Warm Jets, and remains a classic influential record in the '80s New Zealand underground. Jefferies followed up with another fine solo album, Electricity, and numerous others that paled in comparison to his solo masterwork. Closed Circuit is as close as he's come to a similar epiphany, evidence that maybe The Last Great Challenge in a Dull World was exactly that, more than a decade prior. That isn't to say that it's a bad album; in fact, it's a brilliant album of songs centered around his favored themes of desolation, paranoia, and confessional blueness. The stark mix of drums, piano, and bass renders the overall sound a little monochromatic, the melodrama a little heavy-handed in places, yet the forms and themes are as arresting as anything he recorded in the '90s. Closed Circuit ensures Jefferies' position as one of the most interesting and influential songwriters of the New Zealand post-punk underground, and is highly recommended to fans of the bleak and brooding atmospheres of John Cale and Kevin Coyne.
AllMusic Review by Dean McFarlane