- In the early '80s, Hubertus Richenel Baars was a costume and set design student at Amsterdam's Gerrit Rietveld Academie. He sang on the city's club circuit, where he developed a talent for theatre. He often posed as a woman at the start of gigs, and would cross-dress over the course of the show. Richenel had a pop star's charisma. Before turning to pop—4AD licensed one of his biggest hits, "L'esclave Endormi," in 1986—Richenel released La Diferencia in 1982 for Fetisj, a multimedia collective with ties to Amsterdam's punk, squat and art school scenes. It was a promiscuous blend of new wave hybrids, with lo-fi funk jams packing A Certain Ratio-style basslines, drum machine disco and Kurtis Blow-style hip-hop.
La Diferencia is a repackaged version of Richenel's 1982 cassette release. Only four of the original's eight tracks make the reissue, alongside two previously unheard songs. The lyrics touch on universal themes of desire, love and disappointment. As a metaphor for fading romance, "Autumn" hits home with delicate turns of phrase. Richenel sings with an easy confidence and wisdom.
The EP has the casual warmth of an afterhours record. The songs also hint at Richenel's possible weekend rituals. "I Won't Bite" teases with amorous come ons. "Gentle Friend" gestures to drug use. Richenel seems most like himself on "La Diferencia," where he speaks, raps and sings in Spanish—sometimes in wails of soprano—over a fast beat. Listening to "La Diferencia" is a voyeuristic experience. Richenel opens a window to his racing mind, babbling with subconscious urges and half-sketched thoughts. La Diferencia is the first draft of the pop star Richenel would become. A portrait of a young man, it comes alive in flashes of unexpected depth.
A2 Slave Of The Body/Mind
A3 I Won't Bite
B1 Gentle Friend
B2 Baby Please
B3 La Diferencia