THOMAS LEER Private Plane / International 12"
Thomas Leer is an innovative electronic musician who was born in Port Glasgow, Scotland. He began singing for a local band at age 13, and was writing his own music by 18. By 1977, he had moved to London, where he fronted Pressure, a Clash-esque punk group with fellow experimental Scottish musician Robert Rental. After hearing Kraftwerk, Leer became interested in synthesizers – not long after, he was exploring the experimental techniques of Eno, Zappa, Beefheart, Faust, and Can.
In 1978, Thomas released his first single, “Private Plane”/ “International”, on his own Oblique Records. Both songs were recorded in his small Finsbury Park flat over three days, using a TEAC A3440 4-track recorder and an ALICE mixing board. The only effects used were a Watkins Copicat tape echo unit, Electo Harmonix DrQ filter, an old Roland drum machine, and a Stylophone. So as to not wake his sleeping girlfriend, Leers vocals were nearly whispered, which lends them a textural, psychedelic quality. NME named “Private Plane” Single of the Week, and the hand-stamped first edition of 650 promptly sold out. For this expanded reissue, weve added 2 bonus tracks. “Kings of Sham”, from the 1981 Cherry Red Records sampler “Business As Usual”, is perfect motorik trance, echoing Conny Planks 1970s productions. “Saving Grace” is the extended instrumental version of Leers second single “All About You” from 1982, a slow-burning cosmic work-out chock-full of anthemic synth riffs.
All songs have been remastered for vinyl by George Horn at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley. The jacket is an exact replica of the 1978 handmade edition enlarged for the 12” format, featuring a cut and paste collage by Thomas. Each copy includes a two-sided newsprint insert with never-before-seen photos, an interview, and liner notes by Professor Keith R. Laws. 37 years later this is fresh UK D.I.Y. post-punk, compelling pop with a dark heart, vacillating between the pretty disturbing and the disturbingly pretty.