Robert Rental was a British pioneer of the post-punk DIY industrial electronic music scene in the United Kingdom. Originally from Port Glasgow, Scotland, he moved to the south of England with Thomas Leer in the late 1970s, and became involved with the local music scene. Robert Rental however released very little of his solo music, preferring to collaborate with Thomas Leer, as well as with Daniel Miller.
The only solo recording from The 1970s is the 7" single "Paralysis" first released on the homemade Regular Records, then re-released on Company Records in 1978. On an unassuming cassette, just labelled ‘Robert Rental’ in green Dymo tape, these demos have lain unheard for years amongst his family’s treasured possessions, cared-for artefacts of a life cut short far too soon.
These demos, which Robert recorded in his council flat at Macey House, Battersea in 1980, provide an enticing glimpse into his all-too-infrequent solo work. On most occasions, Robert worked with Thomas Leer, Daniel Miller or other collaborators. These are rough recordings, tape hiss still in evidence, but his creativity shines through the murk, like uncut diamonds.
We know 2 of these tracks from their later re-recording for the Mute Records single ‘Double Heart’ late in 1980. Robert spoke to friends of his frustration at being unable to replicate his sound in a commercial studio – it was these demos’ sound that he wanted to recreate.
Sometimes having only access to the most rudimentary of equipment can hone the creative talent into something sharper and more focused – necessity is the mother of invention, indeed.