I can still remember the cassette that my Brother handed me in the early nineties. It was a TDK D90 and on it was a copy of Leftfield’s ‘Leftism‘. Somehow, probably becasue I didn’t have that many albums at the time (and certainly nothing like that) it became branded into my head. It permeated my brain and stayed there. I know that album back-to-front and it still stands to me as one of the greatest testaments to electronic music that was ever made. Deep, energetic, dubby, rhythmic and ever so slightly dark. From the diffused come-down of ‘Melt’ to the punky snarls of John Lydon in ‘Open Up’; Leftism preemptively spanned an entire genre before the genre even properly existed.
Then finally, after an agonising wait, ‘Rhythm and Stealth‘ thundered into view to an exultant but critical audience. Electronic music had changed since Leftism and the clubs were ruled by spotty self-assured pill munchers who bathed in the disposable glory of Ibiza. People expected something else. But the purists knew the true longitudinal value of the experimentalist approach to this album.
Slowly but surely I hear of people mentioning that they have rediscovered it – Perhaps highlighting the fact the Leftfield have always been miles ahead of the game. I often wonder what would have happend if Paul Daley and Neil Barnes would have stayed together as the band and made another album. In a way, I’m glad they didn’t. Heart aching as it is, I think they would have sealed a fate similar to Underworld if they had. Instead, they will float gracefully and respectfully into electronic music history.
Just before they do though, here’s the track ‘Swords’ taken from ‘Rhythm and Stealth’: