Category: EBM / Industrial
Album: World Molæster
Blurb: Although perhaps not the most definitive record in Leæther Strip’s extensive discography, it presents Claus Larsen’s diverse palette of tonal and stylistic colors enough to make it a fine entry to celebrate the band’s 30th anniversary.
The very fact that Claus Larsen has maintain a career making music for three decades is impressive in itself. Since its inception in 1988, the name of Leæther Strip has become virtually synonymous with EBM/industrial as Larsen has carried the project through all the varying trends of the scene, incorporating new elements and modes while adhering strictly to a very identifiable sound. With his latest outing, World Molæster continues in this vein, as first impressions are sure to come across that this is a standard yet strong entry in the band’s expansive discography, with repeated listens revealing other aspects to Larsen’s stylistic palette that may not be immediately noticeable.
While synthpop has never been excluded from Leæther Strip’s sonic vocabulary, Larsen’s recent work with John R. Mirland in Am Tierpark may have left an indelible mark on his current songwriting as evidenced by certain tracks on World Molæster. Case in point, a song like “Harvest For the Rejects,” as its strident Germanic choral refrain and thrusting dance rhythms give way to Larsen’s gritty but melodic vocals, his lyrics decrying the unwillingness to combat injustice and fascism presented with an almost mournful earnestness. In a similar vein is the title track, the rage in Larsen’s accusatory lyrics restrained by a rather catchy verse melody and harmonious iterations of the title, offset by a lush arrangement of trickling synths and bouncy rhythms reminiscent of Front 242’s “Don’t Crash,” while the touches of vocoder on “Anxiety” give the track a bit of an ‘80s flair, the angular bass line and sharp vocal lines recalling the likes of Falco. On the other hand, “My Body Cage” bears the marks of the electro/EBM scene for the last 20 years as And the Sky Bled provides a scorching synth lead and straightforward beat upon which Larsen simply lets loose; not a bad track, but clearly distinct from Leæther Strip’s signatures. Furthermore, tracks like “Drop the Bullshit,” “See You In Pain,” “His Domain,” and “Your Violence My Gasoline” punch through the speakers with carefully programmed arrangements of synth, samples, and percussive effects for a decidedly EBM/industrial tonality befitting the harsher lyrics.
Not unlike myriad of stylistic colors on display, the lyrics on World Molæster showcase Larsen’s ability to touch matters both personal and political without losing a sense of thematic identity. Tracks like the aforementioned “Anxiety,” “We Wouldn’t Change a Single Day,” and “Cracks So Deep” find Larsen putting forth his musings on a fragile mental and emotional state. Other tracks like the title track and “The Great Wide Closed” take some not-so-subtle jabs at the current U.S. administration’s immigration policies. This writer can’t help but think of the late comedian Bill Hicks when listening to “Have No Fear” as its chorus of “Have No Fear / It’s all a show / Have No Fear / To hell we go” seems to mirror Hicks’ own reflections on life being “just a ride” and encouraging people to choose the path of love over fear; set to darkly pulsating EBM beats and bass lines, the bell-like synth loops almost bear the cadence of a chorale befitting Carl Orff, giving the song a much more orchestral quality that belies its simplicity.
Although this writer wouldn’t call World Molæster a definitive record, it does in many regards provide a wider encompassing view of what Leæther Strip has been about for 30 years. Other acts would likely create a disparity between the harder EBM/industrial and darker atmospheres with more lyrical and melodious moments, but Larsen traverses the lines dividing these styles with the almost effortless mastery of an electro/industrial Zen master. His longevity and prolific output is proof enough of Larsen’s legacy, so while World Molæster may not be the shining beacon to lead the genre into a new evolutionary realm, it also won’t condemn the listener to the boredom of banality.