Once an oddity that crowded the discount bins of record shops, Don Bradshaw Leather’s obscure 1972 work rocketed in fame when it was recommended by Nurse With Wound and David Tibet. An atmospheric double-album consisting of four tracks, ‘The Distance Between Us’ is made all the weirder by the mystery surrounding the artist and the fact that he appears dressed as a kind of wolfman creature on the cover art.
Don Bradshaw Leather: Dance of the Goblins
File sharing and word of mouth has increased Don Bradshaw Leather’s exposure but left listeners with more questions than answers.
All Music Guide had this to say:
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. ~ Rolf Semprebon, All Music Guide
Not much was known about this artist until an email from his sister was posted at http://avalh.blogspot.com:
DON BRADSHAW LEATHER WAS BORN IN 1948 AND RAISED WITHIN A RESPECTABLE JEWISH FAMILY – HE GREW WITH AND INTO MUSIC MORE BY GENETIC DESTINY THAN ENVIRONMENTAL CONSEQUENCE. HE BECAME A CLASSICALLY TRAINED MUSICIAN OF THE HIGHEST LEVEL. HIS UNDERSTANDING OF MUSIC AS A LANGUAGE – A MEANS OF ADVANCED COMMUNICATION BEYOND WORDS AND COMPREHENSION WAS AT A DEPTH AND COMPLEXITY UNKNOWN TO MOST. WITH REGARDS THE COMPOSITION OF INTEREST: “DISTANCE BETWEEN US”… MR BRADSHAW APPROACHED A MAJOR RECORD LABEL (CBS) CIRCA 1970 WITH BASIC RECORDINGS OF HIS OWN PLAYING AND WAS AWARDED THE FINANCIAL MEANS TO DEVELOP AN ALBUM – AT THIS POINT HE WAS STAYING IN ESSEX (HIS HOMETOWN) BUT SOON USED THE FUNDS TO CREATE A LARGE STUDIO IN SUSSEX WITH MANY INSTRUMENTS INCLUDING AN ACTUAL CHURCH ORGAN. HERE, ON HIS OWN WITHOUT THE USE OF ANY ELECTRONIC SEQUENCING EQUIPMENT HE RECORDED “DISTANCE BETWEEN US” USING SIMPLE MULTITRACK TAPE BY LAYERING EACH PART OF THE COMPOSITION TO FORM THE COMPLETED PIECE.Mr Bradshaws Sister (musically talented also) describes her brother’s work: “A COMPOSITION WHICH COMMUNICATES JUDGMENT AND MERCY IN EQUAL PROPORTION – A BALANCE OF MERCY AND JUDGEMENT, TRANSMITTED IN HARMONY”. MR BRADSHAWS SISTER IS SURE THAT THE WORK OF HER BROTHER IS AN ADVANCED LANGUAGE WHICH IS INSUMISABLE BY CURRENT METHODS OF NOTATION. ODEN BRADSHAW DIED AND LEFT THIS WORLD 12 YEARS AGO. It has been expressed by his sister that her brother’s work is respected and credited accurately.
There is more info and analysis of Bradshaw’s work at DirectWaves.
If you happen to find a physical copy on your own, lucky you as the price has increased since its oddball days as a remainder at second hand shops. Apparently there were plans to release The Distance Between Us on CD but I cannot find any trace of what prevented this from happening. A creepy and bizarre musical piece, Don Bradshaw Leather’s work, continues to find new listeners as his reach spreads via outsider music outlets and blogs like this one.
2/4/11 Update Via Coptic Cat:
Don Bradshaw-Leather CD reissue
David is meeting Don Bradshaw-Leather’s sister once again when she returns to England in March/April to discuss the Coptic Cat reissue of her brother’s masterpiece Distance Between Us. This project is taking longer than we had both envisioned due to her recent relocation outside of the UK. She is very keen (as I am) to find extra material for the issue—photos, texts and perhaps even music. The release is still absolutely on and we are planning for it to be out later this year.