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Total Leatherette
For The Climax Of The Night Melissa Steiner , August 8th, 2017 15:35

Reverberating, irregular beats from the amyl-soaked dancefloors of Glasgow.

Let's begin with the album cover. A man performs autofellatio. His back curves himself in on himself, his head on a pillow, eyes half open. He looks relaxed, like sucking his own cock is just what he likes to do after a night out. And how does that make you feel?

Glaswegian duo Total Leatherette excel at unease. Listening to their second album For The Climax Of The Night induces the feeling of being stalked through unfamiliar streets. The album is built on rising anxiety, driving belligerently onwards towards the darkest dancefloor you never dreamed of, climaxing with throbbing machine music. Reverberating, irregular beats from the drum machine are layered with creeping vocals that you can't quite catch but paranoiacally understand. This is dark disco, mutated EBM, queer industrial music that deserves its face wrapped in latex.

The album takes its name from a line in 'Sharevari', the influential proto-techno hit by A Number Of Names, a band embedded in the Detroit underground dance party scene of the early 1980s. Total Leatherette has a similar outsider's take on club life that combines the gothic elements of German synth music with the ragged and dirty elements of early industrial experimentation. The band's name of course recalls 'Warm Leatherette', that relentless and wonky track first released in 1978 by The Normal before being funked up two years later by Grace Jones. The album synthesizes these ideas and produces something new, contributing to the flourishing scene of intriguing underground music currently coming out of Glasgow and specifically from Green Door Studio, a recording space which has created fertile ground for innovation.

The album's low-fi minimalism brings a sense of the punk analogue to the digital. You can hear this fusion in the factory-line mechanical repetition of 'Velvet Sinatra (B Side)' which provides a relentless backdrop for low-key robotic mutterings. 'High In The Valley Of The Screaming Rainbow' begins twitchy and stripped back, and as the many discordant layers are added you long to see how this works on an actual dancefloor.

Central track 'Work Harder' perhaps encapsulates the intention of the record as a whole, beginning with a simplistic full-bodied beat that is joined by purely danceable elements of funk and the distant memory of hand drums, only to be disrupted by a chaotic strobe effect, just when you thought it was safe to dance like a normal person.

'Faux Fox' is a slow burn, beginning with an expectant rhythm which builds into a sexy lost highway style roughness. This track has been turned into a video, a night-cam confusion of images of a fox, the animal's eyes burning like the headlights of vehicles from the nearby motorway as it is hunted, or hunts, through a landscape of industrial carparks and empty fields, interspersed with glimpses of sex and skeletal trees over-exposed in the darkness.

The longer tracks on the album can be hard going unless full attention is paid to the nuances; For The Climax Of The Night is best listened to under total immersion to avoid the fatigue that inevitably hits when listening to tracks that are extended experiments in repetition.

DIY record label MÏLK records has put this album out, and while the label has always been interested in releasing things that explore the outer reaches of punk, For The Climax Of The Night seems to signal a shift in interest to something harder edged.

With its eminently censorable cover and sex-maze attitude, this is a late night record. It begs to be heard live but translates well to vinyl (clear vinyl in this case), offering you a private opportunity to explore your own corrupt urges.