Thomas Leer & Robert Rental, The Bridge…

Celebrating synth pioneers from the Port

Photo by Andy Wishart, 1978

Thomas Leer and Robert Rental’s ‘The Bridge’ is re-issued on vinyl for the first time since its original release in 1979, and on CD for the first time since 1992. We’re extremely excited to team up with the organisers of the From The Port To The Bridge exhibition in Greenock to offer an exclusive bundle to celebrate this seminal piece of synth history.

With Robert unfortunately passing away in 2000, this record, Leer and Rental’s one and only album together, stands alone in capturing the duo’s pioneering capabilities. ‘The Bridge’ was originally released on Throbbing Gristle’s Industrial Records label in 1979 and is considered to be an early electronic avant-garde synth-pop masterpiece, seeing the likes of John Foxx, Propaganda, Art of Noise and ABC citing the pair as key influences. The release of this album aligns the exhibition ‘From The Port To The Bridge’ which will be held at The Horse Hospital in central London from 21st January until 10th February 2022. The exhibition, which was previously shown in Greenock in 2018, shares the story behind Thomas Leer and Robert Rental and the making of the album.

Included in this bundle, along with a faithful reproduction of The Bridge on limited white vinyl via Mute is :
– From The Port To The Bridge zine written and edited by curator Simon Dell
– Thomas Leer & Robert Rental T Shirt available in several sizes
– The Bridge Postcard signed by Thomas Leer
– Reproduction Industrial Records album promo poster

Welcome to the Jangle: The Umbrellas return

Write It In The Sky:

Could this be, could this be the best yet from The Umbrellas? Well, when it rains it pours, just like the melodies and harmonies that veritably cascade in waterfalls from this cloud-filled San Francisco sky. Write It In The Sky begins like a lot of the more upbeat crashers on their debut but then brings in a new distorted guitar element to bring a rollicking Veronica Falls-style smash straight into yr life. Backing vocals and disaffected lead vocals criss cross over this adrenalin fuelled twee banger and god don’t we just love it?  On the b-side we have the heavier “I’ll Never Understand,” a slow, trippy song with a slightly-delic sound that builds to a noisy crescendo.

Just the best, ain’t they?

The Umbrellas LP:

A future Monorail classic, we’re really excited to partner with Slumberland and The Umbrellas to offer a retail exclusive on the second press of this record. The first pressing on Green vinyl is sold out at source, we have the last handful available, while the Monorail retail exclusive will be with us by Spring 2022. It’ll be worth the wait.

The Umbrellas are a new group from San Francisco who plug straight into the continuum of classic jangle pop groups like they’ve always been there. There’s a effervescent effortlessness to what they do, a breezy timelessness that marks each track out like a gem in the Bay Area sand.

In fact, geography is something that is prescient to only a few aspects of their sound, namely the arpeggiated, single coil jangle guitar work that can be traced back to The Byrds’ innovations on the West Coast in the 60s. Of course, San Francisco is in the middle of a pop rennaisance it seems, with recent favourites The Reds Pinks and Purples and the Cindy/Flowertown nexus taking firm root in our hearts. While The Umbrellas share these groups’ love of harmony and DIY Spirit there’s perhaps more of a leaning on the British wave of C86 pop than those groups. Put simply, The Umbrellas are one of the most faithfully special indie pop groups to have emerged in a long while.

At the heart of The Umbrellas sound is the interplay between two main vocalists Matt Ferrara and Morgan Stanley regaling the mics with heartbreak, lost loves, small moments of beauty, bigger moments of let down. They can crack on at speed, bring it down for glittering tales of sadness, all dressed with cascading treble guitars falling down like glints of light in the dark. Fast opener Lonely feels like a classic among classics, with Ferrara’s fighting through chord changes detailing a failed connection, while following track Near You has a more 60s girl group mid paced feel, with Stanley’s sugared vocal searching for consoling, for a place of safety from the battering winds of emotional turmoil. It’s a sweetness that could be on K records in the late 80s, on Cherry Red in the mid 80s, or in this case where it belongs, on Slumberland on any era.

Autumn has a smattering of Pastels charm with a hint of Paisley Underground. Like the best indie pop, The Umbrellas have a nugget of wide-eyed wonder at their heart, an innocence that yearns for an ideal word that’s forever out of reach. Well, it makes for better songs, so maybe it’s better like that. On Happy, Stanley simply pontificates about the state of her happiness when near, we presume, an unreliable Other before Ferrera takes over with slow, acoustic heartbreaker It’s True. There’s something simple and special when Stanley joins in on harmony, it’s a tested formula, from Velvets to Belle and Sebastian, but it sounds fresh and distinctly Umbrellas.

In fact, while we’re talking about the geography-less-ness of this music, how it belongs to sensitive broken hearts everywhere we could also put in a claim that it owes a lot to the G postcodes of Glasgow. There’s a pop-studded Vaselines throwaway to Galine, a JAMC beat on the toms on Summer before a Strawberry Switchblade simplicity in the chorus.

This is special music no matter where it’s from, rest assured.

Chill out, Saint Etienne present Fell From The Sun

Exclusive signed postcards

1989 had been a long hot summer, but 1990 felt longer and hotter. Since the house music explosion of 1987, Britain had had a whistle in its mouth, and it needed a lie down. February 1990 brought two records that were made to accompany the sunrise and would shape the immediate future: The KLF’s “Chill Out” was a continuous journey, a woozy, reverb-laden mix; and Andrew Weatherall’s drastic remix of a Primal Scream album track – ‘Loaded’ – slowed down the pace on the dancefloor itself, right down to 98 beats per minute.

Within weeks of ‘Loaded’ and “Chill Out” emerging, a whole wave of similarly chilled, floaty, mid-tempo records appeared. The charts were full of chugging Soul II Soul knock-offs, but further out were amazingly atmospheric records such as the Grid’s ‘Floatation’, which married the new-age relaxation method du jour with Jane Birkin-like breathy sighs; BBG’s ‘Snappiness’, which was all sad synth pads and Eric Satie piano; and the Aloof’s ‘Never Get Out Of The Boat’, which re-imagined Apocalypse Now as if it had been shot in Uxbridge.

“Fell From The Sun” gathers the best of the 98bpm records that soundtracked the summer of 1990. It has been compiled by Bob Stanley, whose own group Saint Etienne makes an appearance alongside acknowledged classics (Primal Scream’s ‘Higher Than The Sun’) and forgotten beauties (Soul Family Sensation’s ‘I Don’t Even Know If I Should Call You Baby’).

This was a modernist sound, grabbing bits of the past, the feel of the immediate now, and creating something entirely new. There was a notable 90s-does-60s vibe, a neo-psychedelia that didn’t involve guitars. For a moment, or at least for a summer, it felt like the perfect future had already arrived. “Fell From The Sun” encapsulates that moment.

Bob Stanley


Higher Than The Sun (Higher Than The Orb) (Extended Mix) – Primal Scream

It Could Not Happen (Essential Trance Hall Mix) – Critical Rhythm feat Jango     Thriller & Vandal

Cascades (Hypnotone Mix) – Sheer Taft

Afrika (Love And Laughter Remix) – History feat Q-Tee

Floatation (Original Version) – The Grid

Speedwell (Radio Edit) – Saint Etienne

Fallen (Album Version) – One Dove

Temple Head (Pacific Mix – Airwaves) – Transglobal Underground

Just A Little Bit More (Electro Instrumental Mix) – Massonix

U Make Me Feel (Running Water aka Workhouse Mix) – Elsi Curry

I Don’t Even Know If I Should Call You Baby (Marshall Jefferson Symphony Mix) – Soul Family Sensation

Snappiness (7″ Edit) – BBG

Never Get Out The Boat (The Flying Mix) – The Aloof

Spiritual High (The Moodfood Megamix) – Moodswings

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