Thomas Leer and Robert Rental

  • Thomas Leer and Robert Rental
  • The Bridge (UK Industrial) 1979 
  • Thomas Leer
  • 4 Movements EP (UK Cherry Red) 1981 
  • Contradictions (UK Cherry Red) 1982 
  • Letter from America (Cachalot) 1982 
  • Scale of Ten (UK Arista) 1985 

Thomas Leer’s method of recording is as unique as his work: he locks himself in his home studio alone with his synthesizers and tape machines and emerges months later with a record. Apart from pop trends, Leer has turned out some of the most creative and human synthesizer work on vinyl.

The Bridge, done in tandem with Robert Rental, is Leer’s foray into Germanic technique, consisting of dark electro-pop songs underlined by repetitious sound patterns and punctuated by appliance noises. Despite the music’s hard edge, some tunes — notably “Monochrome Day’s” — are masterpieces of the form. Uneven but entertaining.

With 4 Movements and Contradictions, Leer maps out his own special turf: credible white electro-soul. The unselfconscious work bears signs of natural progression rather than conspicuous affectation. The four songs on 4 Movements and seven numbers on the two 12-inch 45s of Contradictions prove beyond doubt that synthesizer music can have energy and warmth, especially on 4 Movements‘ stunners, “Don’t” and “Letter from America.”

Letter from America compiles the contents of Contradictions and 4 Movements in toto as a two-record set.

[Steven Grant]