And here's the catch: he continues to improve and re-define his sound with each new output. "Civil Disobedience" is raw, angry, aggressive; the creativity is at an all time high.
A nice boot to the teeth comes first with the title track establishing how things sound these days from the Strip Farm. Try to keep your feet moving in time with this one, I dare you; the bassline is just outstanding. The classic Strip syncopations push the throttle higher and higher. Mr. Larsen has much to still say, it would appear. He is a one-man army bent on making up for lost time, this much is certain. The vocals on this new record are surprisingly pissed off, he does a bit of singing for sure but by and large, "Civil Disobedience" is one wild ride through both discs. "Pissing on My Territory" clearly shows that the Klutae project has been absorbed into the Strip arsenal as the guitar riffs punctuate Claus' rant quite effectively. Here's another thing to keep those jaws dropping, he's done a cover of Die Krupps "Machineries of Joy" and man, he nails it perfectly. Jürgen Engler ought to be awed by this; I certainly am. By simply punching up the rhythmic content, Leaether Strip not only update but make this tune his own. "Could Ya, Did Ya" is a continuation of the abrasive punkish approach he began on his last album with the track "Blah Blah Blah".
If this review seems excessive, bear in mind the massive amount of material Larsen has just put on offer for consideration. It isn't everyday one of these sorts of boxes come out and the box version is the definitive one to own, here's why:
I had written synthpop off as dead on arrival for years but the bonus album for "Civil Disobedience" is an incisive burst of electronics straight out of the beloved 80:s. Entitled "One Nine Eight Two", we are bequeathed twelve additional tracks with Larsen in full on new romantic mode. But this is not the 80:s the kids want or dream of returning to, no, this is my kind of 80:s. It has much in common with Soft Cell in their day or even Vicious Pink. Twisted, bent up tunes which do not shy away from topics and lifestyles that back in those years were more than just taboo, they were grounds to be killed for.
"New Wave Fashion" ought to darken any floor it graces yet it is colourful in a way which celebrates what a time that decade was for those of us who were around for it. I'm pretty sure I'm alone in this but if Larsen wants to put out more work in this style, I'm game. No one else could revive the synthiepop as Leaether Strip have and by god, I have to thank him effusively for it. He's made me bounce around my apartment like a schoolboy, which is undoubtedly the aim. This is not wallowing in the past for the sake of it, though. This is homage, this is tribute, this is acknowledgement of how defined by our youth we are; the choices we make during it are what decide the outcome our lives will take. A rather ominous way to conclude, I know, but that's the thing which makes this album so authentic. The 80:s more than anything else found all of us living under the threat of global thermonuclear annihilation, AIDS on the rise and the economics of trickling down.
Yet in spite of it all, the spirit of those artists who endured it never broke, never faultered. In the face of Reagan, Haig, Breshnev and Thatcher on the loose, electronic acts thrived in ways they have not managed to since. Here's hoping Claus has delivered the wake up call.