If The Sound allowed Adrian Borland to exercise his demons, then Second Layer allowed him to exorcise them.
Borland was the frontman for the criminally under-rated and under-appreciated post-punks The Sound. With success, if not critical acclaim, eluding them they never rose to the same heights as their early-80s contemporaries Joy Division, Echo & The Bunnymen, and The Chameleons to name but three.
World of Rubber was the only full-length album from Second Layer; joining Borland from their parent group was Graeme Bailey. Originally released in 1981 following Jeopardy‘s release, this deluxe edition is remastered and contains demos and other previously unheard material.
Opening track Definition is the bitter and twisted relative of Missiles from Jeopardy – bleak, electronic beats dominate and set the tone for what comes later. Borland’s jagged guitar joins the minimalistic drioning of Bailey’s electronics to create a desolate atmosphere. Borland’s lyrics are painfully bitter – “Loyalty screaming from a bloodstained bed” and ‘The definition of honour is the hole in your head” are just two examples.
Experimentation is found at the heart of the album, and it is assuredly a product of its time. The programming of the electronics and drum machine are as primitive as you’d expect from an album of 1981; but that is not to say that one should view it detrimentally. Not only were Borland and Bailey coming to grips with the nascent technology of the day, Borland was finding a secondary outlet for his well documented issues. With Japanese Headset you have a genesis of industrial combined with spoken words and primal screams.
Fixation, Save Our Souls and Underneath The Glass have an innocence of discovery that pervade throughout; in each song on the album there is a spark of the band they came from if you listen carefully; you’ll also find that Borland is unencumbered by record label expectations in his lyrics, musical performance and vocal delivery.
If you’re a fan of The Sound it is an interesting curio for you. It’s certainly not one for you to dive into the collection with. It is nevertheless a rewarding listen, and taken in the context of Borland’s life as a whole, it sits proudly as a towering achievement of talent and expression.
World of Rubber (Deluxe Edition) is available from Dark Entries on 2xLP here.