[Reviewed by Peter Marks]
He’s been out on the road and it shows with this album. After all the miles logged we find Claus Larsen wasting no time getting to the point. It has been a while since we’ve heard from him and there’s no relenting on his part with regard to the intensity which has come to define his music. I suppose when a person gets to this point in their career they have no time for bells and whistles; these are ten songs that move, everyone. They’ll move some to dance, they’ll move others to continue ignoring him but best of all they will move the more inquisitive ones to investigate his catalog. This is an introspective record meant to be listened to alone with minimal distractions which may prove difficult to achieve but worth the effort.
You don’t have to try and like these tunes, they’re so expertly composed and produced you’ll feel you’ve been listening to them all your life. Perhaps I’m being fanciful here but this band have been at it for the duration with no signs of flagging strength or creative zeal; this is direct and electronic with a sugary coating to some of it but not once does Larsen ever cross the line and resort to jingoism. He’s a guy who gives his fans what they want and if that happens to be a straight-forward shot of EBM to the jugular or a diatribe against mediocrity then that’s what you’ll receive; you never have to wonder where this Strip will be coming from: it’ll be aggressive yet contemplative, it’ll be dark at times but a beauty is contained within it nevertheless.
“Filling the Graves” is one of those cuts you get out of him every few years or so where it all comes together so flawlessly that you’ll be unable to stop playing it; he’s become very adept at songwriting, even if the music isn’t to your taste his words are going to make you sit back and think. The majority of acts who are in the scene he is choose to exemplify a peter pan approach to aging in that they try and stay 25 forever. Rather than join in this particularly odious chant our composer opts to let everything hang out in all it’s middle-aged glory; his voice is rougher and his topics are growing increasingly personal. I applaud him for this. Things are getting tense where he is, there’s no need to quote headlines.
Many are giving into their fears but Leaether Strip will not accede to the wishes of those afflicted by paranoia, nationalism or xenophobia.
Every track I encounter is smoother than the last; it is like sipping differing grades of Bourbon when you play ‘Spaectator’ just be mindful of the increasing proof percentage as you knock them back or you’ll wind up on your ass paralyzed by the cavalcade of flavors. This record is a precise distillation of what makes his work so enduring and yet even as he’s refining his methods he plays around with his sound in ways you wouldn’t expect a musician with his discography to. The title track is probably the best example of this with it’s unrepentant and brutish message. He’s aware of how things these days are and rather than bitterly condemning them he chooses to watch with an unblinking gaze.
“Nostalgia will get you nowhere, your future’s grim and I will be there.” Amen.