Artist: Leaether Strip
Album: Civil Disobedience
Subgenres(s): Electronic Body Music (EBM)
Length: 69 minutes (CD 1), 72 minutes (CD 2)
Language(s): English, German
Label(s): Alfa Matrix
Track List (CD 1):
01. Civil Disobedience
02. The Damaged People
03. When Blood Runs Dark
04. Bite Until You Taste Blood
05. Jagtvej 69
06. Going Nowhere
07. I Said I’m Sorry
08. Pissing on My Territory
09. It Hurts Doesn’t It
10. One Day
11. The Devil’s Daughter
Track List (CD 2):
01. A Whore for Jesus
02. I Wear Black on the Inside
03. Machineries of Joy (Die Krupps Cover)
05. Soul Collector
06. Could Ya, Did Ya
07. In the Arms of a Demon
08. One More Reason
09. The Cradle of Death
11. The Evil in Putin’s Eyes
Leaether Strip Civil Disobedience Review
Civil Disobedience is the 11th studio album (and second double album) by Danish Electronic Body Music (EBM) artist Leaether Strip. Claus Larsen, the sole architect behind Leaether Strip, guarantees two things with Civil Disobedience with the first being a tour-de-force in aggressive dance music paired with subversive lyrics that paint a grim reality.
This is noteworthy early on with The Damaged People, wherein Claus Larsen lists off vignettes of suffering ranging from “the village idiot who made us laugh/until he raped a girl behind the bike shed” to “the dead man on the second floor/no one noticed he was gone until the smell came” and “the gay teenager killing himself/because his parents told him what the world does to faggots”. The last of those could possibly be a reference to his teenage years in which he was in danger of taking his life*.
On the first CD Claus Larsen’s voice ranges from confrontational snarls and shouts to outraged cries of distress (on Going Nowhere in particular) but on the second CD he often sounds more even tempered by comparison. The distorted vocal effects are still implemented across Civil Disobedience in varying degrees to compliment the militant attitude of the music. Some songs also contain voice samples to introduce a lyrical theme with The Cradle of Death, from the second CD, being the most explicit as it is presumably a recording of a soldier or journalist who recalls seeing “scores of people who had been killed, women who had been gang-raped” to “men who had been castrated and been left to bleed to death” … “those are things that we would see nearly every day”.
On the surface you could accuse Claus Larsen of using mere shock value to grab some attention but at the same time it’s entirely possible that this is the result of someone venting his own frustrations with the troubled world he observes. On the politically conscious title track he observes that “politicians use unfair tactics/to scare the people with convenient lies/they want two sides to go against each other/to make us pick the side they want” and Jagtvej 69 addresses the riots in Copenhagen, Denmark in 2007 following the closure and demolition of the Ungdomshuset (The Youth House).
Tired and true loud/soft dynamics with a heavier industrial music influence are used to up the aggressive ante on this song. Starting with a sample of protesters shouting and chanting, the soft piano motif poignantly overlaps them only to be cut down by caustic industrial stylings before it abruptly stops for a haunting solo vocal performance with only soft crackling noises of a fire to create a tense yet sombre atmosphere. The electronic elements are also present in other parts of the song and when they’re used subtly alongside the piano the end result is unquestionably one of Civil Disobedience’s finest moments.
Could Ya, Did Ya is an electro-industrial flavoured song that brings the electric guitar to the forefront and begins with a sarcastic sit-com skit whereas Stains takes a rather gothic twist with an organ arrangement that goes on for a good 3 minutes before the thumping dance beats reappear. There is also a cover of Machineries of Joy, originally by Die Krupps, on the second CD that is sung in both English and German but doesn’t forgo the awkward moaning sounds and manages to be about 2 minutes longer than the original. This leads right into the second guarantee of the Civil Disobedience album: the unholy length of each CD.
The running time of the first CD is 69 minutes and the second is 72 minutes. Matters aren’t helped by the fact that on average each song is nearly 6.5 minutes long so not only will each CD test your patience, there is also the practical question of having the time to be able to sit down and listen to either half properly.
These are some obvious negatives that could have easily been addressed by releasing each CD as a separate album or by shortening some of the songs because the likes of Pissing on My Territory is the shortest song on the album (4 minutes and 43 seconds compared to several that are between 6 and 8 minutes) yet it has some of the most replay value for this very reason.
While Civil Disobedience can feel stretched out on both halves of the album, it shouldn’t diminish the positive qualities found in the dark lyricism that is melded with the spirit of punk rock, particularly in the vocal department, and aggressive dance music because it is a powerful combination that deserves a larger spotlight.
Claus Larsen: Singer, songwriter, performer
* http://www.phxgoth.com/leaether-strip-interview/ “I was a troubled gay teen on the closet, in danger of taking my own life”.