Tom Ellard - Eighties Cheesecake LP


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Label: Dark Entries

Our Review:

In the early days of 1980, Severed Heads was a proper group, with principle engineer Tom Ellard accompanied at various times by Richard Fielding and Garry Bradbury. So when Ellard sporadically recorded his own solo work during this time period, he released it under his own name. By 1983 or so, Severed Heads was wholly under his control. That said, the Tom Ellard solo works do not fall far from the creative / aesthetic tree of Severed Heads - agitprop electronics, tape-loop errata, skewed post-punk detours, and the occasionally beautiful electro-pop melody tossed in for good measure. Eighties Cheesecake was a cassette of Ellard's that came right on the heels of a short-lived publishing venture called Dogfood Production System, which kicked out four LPs from the eccentric community of bleak Aussie post-punk in 1981 but was unable to pay back the $5000 loan, thus forcing him to discontinue that venture. So, he (and Severed Heads) went back to dubbing cassettes through his cottage industry Terse Tapes. Jump forward some 30 years, and an older, more cynical Ellard discovered somebody selling the Eighties Cheesecake cassette online "for a stupid amount of money." His immediate reaction was to crank out an unlimited CD-R edition of the cassette.

Part out of the desire to confuse / frustrate the populace, part out of necessity to trim down the amount of material to fit onto vinyl, Ellard's recapitulation of Eighties Cheesecake contains only some of the material from that aforementioned cassette, with ancillary tracks from another cassette entitled Snappy Carrion, and previously abandoned tracks that got surgically stitched back together. No matter how you slice it, the Dark Entries release of Eighties Cheesecake is a corker or an album. These are punchy, taut electro-tracks with scabs of culture jamming samples, cheeky attitudes, and hyperbolic anxiety. Some of the tracks found on this version were later included in the Vinyl On Demand boxset of early Severed Heads experiments; though what Dark Entries released is entirely of the industrial pop vernacular. It's notable that Ellard dots the album with the iconic TB303, the bass-sequencer that was a failure for Roland for its intended use but later became the signature instrument for acid house and Detroit techno. For all of the acclaim that was put on the instrument throughout the years, Ellard seeths that "it was the worst piece of shit" in the liner notes. Piss and vinegar aside, Eighties Cheesecake makes for an exquisite revisitation!