THE DISTANCE BETWEEN US
Original Issue: 1972 Distance (DIST101)
Margot-meter: 5 moons / 5
from All Music Guide:
The music on this bizarre double album from 1972 is somewhere between gothic horror and psychedelic. Don Bradshaw Leather was apparently some kind of British occult group who self-released this album with no credits. (Also, on the record cover the name is spelled "Bradsham-Leather," not Bradshaw Leather, as it is referred to in everything from the Nurse With Wound list to the book and web guide on early U.K. psychedelic rock -Tapestry of Delights.)
The title track, which takes up the first two sides, begins with some spooky piano rambling and then more mysterious sounds are added in. Soon tribal rhythms pound away while an organ seeps in with more creepy tones. The track gets a bit more intense as the organ and piano jam with the rhythms. Though most of it is instrumental, some wordless female vocals appear toward the end of side one, as the music settles down slightly.
The rest of Distance Between Us is quite similar -- spooky organ and keyboard chords, obsessive piano plinking, primitive drum circle-style percussions, and other mysterious noises and drones in the background, with an overall pervasive gothic ambience, a horror film/cinematic feel. At times quiet and restrained, other times full of freaked-out energy, parts of this would not be out of place on one of Shinjuku Thief's Witch albums. The obsessively scary mood is sustained over all four sides.
Who the hell is Don Bradshaw-Leather? Not much is known about him, but his self-released LP Distance Between Us (Distance Records, 1972) is certainly one bizarre egg. It's on the infamous Nurse With Wound list of Steven Stapleton's favourite weird records, so it's no wonder that this was brought to my attention by David Late Tibet of Current 93 (and sometime NWW collaborator). David sent me a copy and described it as a strange DIY horror symphony beyond words, and it indeed is difficult to describe.
There's hardly a thing about this double LP on the web besides want lists and offers for sale (it seems to be averaging around $200 for original vinyl), though rumor has it that Don was a wealthy hippie (some say a member of Barclay-James Harvest, which David refutes) who was squatting around London in the early 1970's, whereabouts unknown now.
The four lengthy tracks here ("Distance Between Us" Parts 1 & 2, "Dance of the Goblins", and "Autumn Mist") are dense, swirling, and hellish tapestries of blurred instrumentation, squawking voices buried in the mix, and seemingly no layout of progression from point A to point B in various movements (i.e. it's all a giant progression, but almost like a dog chasing its tail in a mad frenzy). Tracks have the leanings of some epic Messiaen pieces in some ways, though imagine Bradshaw-Leather taking his symphony and filtering it through some kind of lo-fi source like a boombox or something and then just went bananas in the post-mix. And if the front cover wasn't insane enough, he's again in Wolfman-garb on the back with a screaming topless woman. The whole sleeve package seems to be hand-cut and stitched as well.