Eleven Pond :: Assemblage (Dark Entries)

Eleven Pond should need no introduction. This 80s group have reformed since being picked up by DE back in 2009. The group are gigging again, bringing their brand analogue pop rock to a new audience. For Dark Entries it is to the past the group return, back to unreleased material made in the latter days of the 1980s.

Dark Entries has really come into its own over its four year life. The label has grown, spread and bloomed into an imprint of prolific output and uncompromising quality. Head honcho Josh Cheon has fostered a label that has set the standard for re-issue excellence, wonderful production alongside a childlike curiosity to unearth the unheard and little known. For some of the latest releases Cheon has decided to cast his gaze backward, back to the early days of Dark Entries to give well-deserved space to some artists and groups that formed the original building blocks of the San Francisco imprint. First up are the first group on Dark Entries: Eleven Pond.

Eleven Pond should need no introduction. This 80s group have reformed since being picked up by DE back in 2009. The group are gigging again, bringing their brand analogue pop rock to a new audience. For Dark Entries it is to the past the group return, back to unreleased material made in the latter days of the 1980s.

Synth fanboys, start your salivating.

The album was recorded in 1987, one year after Bas Relief, and just before the band parted company. Eight tracks make up the LP, with some stand out entries. The stern strings of Jack Schaeffer’s guitar opens “Blood Ruins Film.” Synth energy soon bursts in, the track revealing itself as an electrified piece of New Wave pop.  “Watching Trees (Bedroom Demo)” was always bound to cause some eager mouse clicking. This early take on the excellent original is true to its bedroom moniker. The synths, perhaps made on cheaper machines,  have a much more hollow sound than the original but is a longer intro for the DJ minded. The melody is not as full as the original, instead being tapered back but nonetheless rich and analogue. Overall, a little less polished but definitely interesting and filled with the passion of the original. “Kiss By The Hotel DeVille” is more of a synth rock creature, its emotion and softened lyrics running into “The Stain.” The influence of UK  bands, Joy Division but especially The Cure, is becomes ever more apparent on the album. The listless vocals of both Gallea and Tabbi are full of Robert Smith’s hurt desperation. The tracks are more produced than those of Bas Relief, “Gold & Green” having a very refined quality. Strings also feature more heavily on Assemblage, guitars taking center stage in both “Land of Yellow” and “Vandyke’s Collar.” The finale is a cruel and lovelorn work of a lost life and a quality curtain fall.

Bas Relief marked the musical movement of Eleven Pond, but the direction was always going to be the question. Electronic elements were merged but divided from traditional sounds. Assemblage shows the outcome, machinery utilized as the building blocks, strings for melodic ballast with vocals playing an even more important role. Haunting and engaging, a fine addition to the DE catalog and a great find.

Assemblage is available on Dark Entries.

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1 Comment

  1. Jeff Gallea says:

    Robbie, thanks for the kind words. You ‘get it’ in spades! A real nice review that gives props to Eleven Pond and Josh/Dark Entries, the label that pulled us out of oblivion and back into the world. -Jeff

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