Boomkat Product Review:
Released on Throbbing Gristle's Industrial Records in 1979, "The Bridge" was the only album from Glaswegian innovators Thomas Wishart and Robert Donnachie (aka Thomas Leer & Robert Rental), but influenced everyone from John Foxx and Art of Noise to Mute founder Daniel Miller and ABC. Seriously next level day zero DIY electro pop made in a bedsit with hacked together synths and reel-to-reel recorders >> end-to-end killer.
When "The Bridge" was released, there was almost nothing else like it out there. Leer and Rental were true pioneers, experimenting with sounds that just hadn't been touched before and changing the course of British pop music in the process. They had spent most of the '70s surfing thru squats and communes, but headed to London in the mid-'70s to write music, inspired by the growing punk movement.
Their take on punk was a little different - they only had access to the cheapest equipment, so a guitar was twinned with a kids' Stylophone keyboard and mangled with a home-made effects unit. Interestingly, their eerie, fwd-thinking sound did get traction at the time, and after a few acclaimed singles they recorded "The Bridge" for Industrial Records in two weeks using hired gear.
Unlike the surge of electronic pop records that would follow, "The Bridge" still sounds haunted and original. The duo's lack of experience with their instruments and clear interest in texture and noise leads them in constantly odd directions, following spiky punk splatter with shimmering ambience or crunchy noise. 'Fade Away' is like John Foxx thru a distortion pedal, while the seven-minute 'Interferon' sounds more like early BoC or Emeralds.
It's a stunning record that's far more than a mere curiosity of the era; you can clearly hear how its sounds reverberated across British pop music and beyond. Time to discover another forgotten classic then...