On an unassuming cassette, just labelled ‘Robert Rental’ in green Dymo tape, these demos have lain unheard for years amongst his family’s treasured possessions, cared-for artefacts of a life cut short far too soon.
These songs, which Robert recorded in his council flat in Battersea in 1980, provide an enticing glimpse into his all-too-infrequent solo work. On most occasions, Robert worked with Thomas Leer, Daniel Miller or other collaborators. These are rough recordings, tape hiss still in evidence, but his creativity shines through the murk, like uncut diamonds.
With these recordings Robert appears to be moving towards more recognisable song structures than most of his earlier work, which could be wildly experimental and would often involve found recordings taped directly off television.
We know 2 of these tracks from their later re-recording for the Mute Records single ‘Double Heart’ late in 1980. Robert spoke to friends of his frustration at being unable to replicate his sound in a commercial studio – it was these demos’ sound that he wanted to recreate. Sometimes having only access to the most rudimentary of equipment can hone the creative talent into something sharper and more focused – necessity is the mother of invention, indeed.
Simon Dell, 2018
I am humbled and ecstatic to be entrusted with this music and able to aid getting these songs out into the world. I have now listened to them countless times and feel they are so, so much more than just an interesting archival release, but rather a small, fully formed body of wondrous songs that deserve to be heard and enjoyed by as many people as possible. In this current era where so much music is so completely focused on the production, with the result that often the soul is sucked out of it, it’s a pleasant shock to discover that a forgotten tape from nearly 40 years ago can be the freshest and most refreshing sounding thing ever.