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Thomas Leer is an innovative electronic musician from Port Glasgow, Scotland. He began singing for a local band at age 13, and was writing his own music by 18. By 1977, he had moved to London, where he fronted Pressure, a Clash-esque punk group with fellow experimental Scottish musician Robert Rental. After hearing Kraftwerk, Leer became interested in synthesizers – not long after, he was exploring the experimental techniques of Brian Eno, Zappa, Beefheart, Faust, and Can. In 1978, Thomas released his first single, “Private Plane”/“International”, on his own Oblique Records that we reissued in 2015.
“1979” is a 14-song collection spread across two pieces of vinyl clocking in at 70 minutes. Leer says, “1979 was a great year for making music. The punk explosion two years earlier, cleansed the palate and opened up minds to new sonic possibilities. It was in this spirit I took to exploring electronics and set up my first little home studio. Bearing in mind this was before such luxuries as Portastudios or affordable multi-tracks, I decided sound quality was less important than experimentation and innovation, so I pressed on with the meager equipment I had. My tabletop studio in Crouch End, North London, consisted of two cassette machines, a copycat tape echo, some FX pedals, Ring Modulator, Guitar, Bass & Wasp Synthesizer.” Songs range from half serene atmospheres, to minimal rhythmic workouts, to tape loops layered behind distorted guitars, to cold layered singing, all with a psychedelic lo-fi attitude.
All songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The jacket features an industrial photo of a man standing on an overpass with a passing truck taken by Thomas’ brother Andy Wishart in 1980. Each copy includes a two-sided black and white postcard with liner notes by Thomas. 38 years later this is fresh UK D.I.Y. post-punk, compelling pop with a dark heart, vacillating between the pretty disturbing and the disturbingly pretty.