Bézier / Leaether Strip :: Double review (Dark Entries)

The past has always been the focus of Dark Entries; well, the lesser known past. But there have been pockets of the present explored on the pioneering San Fran label. It’s first to some home-grown contemporary talent that DE turns before once again gazing into the obscure 80s.

I first came across Robert Yang under his Robot Hustle moniker, a DJ name he used for his disco centric mixes for the Cybernetic Broadcasting System (Intergalactic FM.) Yang, aka Bézier, has sidelined the Technics for the synth and drum machine. Ensconced is Yang’s first vinyl release, following on from a cassette last year, and is different to anything that has come before on DE. The six tracker opens with the title piece, a rumbling work of modern wave. Arpegiattors crank into overload as snares punctuate this charged number. Yang tapers that initial burst of energy for the soulful computer movements of “Silhouette.” There is a videogame motif running through Yang’s sound, a throwback to 8-Bit classics, “Templar” and “Nautilus ’78” reverberating with C64 chirpiness. Speed is not an issue for Yang, “Mecanique” racing into the stratosphere like a rocket. In many ways Bézier’s sound is similar to EOD or FAH, “Servile” brings the EP to a close, a final Nintendo motorway chase to the inner label.

Leaether Strip, aka Claus Larsen, developed a name for himself during the early 90s. This Danish artist took his inspiration from the likes of Front 242, Depeche Mode and the New Wave scene. Larsen is a prolific producer, with a spread of albums and EPs across the 1990s and the 2000s. Dark Entries have collected some of Leaether Strip’s earliest material for an album of never released demos from 1982-86. “Dreaming (First Version)” opens Teenage Demos. The track is fast, swift snares pulsing as catchy synth hooks take hold. The vocals ache, an uncertain angst played against those sweet chords. Larsen has a knack for clever melodies, “Do The Dance” pouring harmonies atop one another in a rush of married discord. The darker and more jagged edge which Leaether Strip would later develop isn’t present. Instead there is a synth pop innocence, one focused on sharp arrangements and early analogue experimentation as in the cascading “Don’t Leave Me.” It’s incredible to think that Larsen was a mere teenager when he was composing these pieces, tracks like “Way Out In Blue” is a sublime work of pop. The musical composition shines throughout the LP. The final three pieces focus on the machine sounds and are superb. To think a teenager managed to produce the elation of “You Don’t Look the Same to Me” to the dark, Lost Boys reminiscent, “Never Trust Anyone At The Carnival” in 1980s Aalborg is truly amazing.

Bézier is the product of those first seeds sown by the likes of Leaether Strip. Yang’s EP takes those early analogue etchings and infuses them with a modern Electro Disco twist. Teengage Demos is a real coup for Dark Entries, an album from an established artist that maps his first musical musings. Inspiring from the, then, young Dane. Some lighter moments from Dark Entries.

Both releases are available on Dark Entries.

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