Robert Rental is an artist as influential as he is overlooked. An anchor of the early British DIY and post-punk scene, his name is most frequently uttered alongside illustrious collaborators such as Thomas Leer and Daniel Miller. Dark Entries and Optimo ally to illuminate some of Rental’s early solo works with an expanded reissue of his debut 7” Paralysis /A.C.C.. Both labels have previously excavated Rental’s catalog; we reissued the collaborative LP with Glenn Wallis in 2017, and Optimo released a collection of demos in 2018.
The double A-side Paralysis /A.C.C. 7” was self-released on Regular Records in 1978, around the same time as Leer’s Private Plane/International 7”. The record is a perfect document of the DIY ethos. It was recorded with the assistance of Leer in the council flat that Robert lived in, using an assortment of budget electronics: a Roland drum machine, a Stylophone, an Electroharmonix DrQ, and a TEAC A3440 4-track recorder. The record’s sleeves were surreptitiously photocopied after hours at the offices of Virgin Records by Robert's partner Hilary Farrow, and the labels were hand-stamped The initial print run was a scant 650 copies. With its prominent notes of Krautrock, prog, dub, and ambient, Paralysis /A.C.C. points to a then-emergent musical form.
“Paralysis” makes its four and a half minute runtime feel like an eon, an endless morass of processed vocals and mournful melodies underpinned by the static whirrings of synthesizers. “A.C.C.” is an angular pop song that is at once both fractured and droning, like a skipping record that sounds incrementally more warped with each iteration. The original 7” material is joined here by three previously unreleased tracks. Instrumentals “G.B.D.” and “Ugly Talk” evidence Rental’s outre-prog and melodic electronic sides, respectively. Sitting between the instrumentals is “Untitled”, a sparse gem that layers Rental’s gently processed vox with guitar and drum machine, beautiful in its simplicity.