The production team which brought house music back from the brink of commercial mediocrity, Leftfield made it safe for artistic producers to begin working in a new vein termed progressive house. Paul Daley (a former member of A Man Called Adam and the Brand New Heavies) and programmer Neil Barnes combined the classic soul of early Chicago and New York house with the growing Artificial Intelligence school of album-oriented techno to create classic, intelligent dance music. When legal hassles over ownership of the Leftfield name prevented the pair from recording their own music after the release of their debut "Not Forgotten," they turned to remixing, establishing their early reputation for reworking tracks by artists ranging from Stereo MC's and David Bowie to Yothu Yindhi and Renegade Soundwave. Finally, with their courtroom battles successfully behind them, they formed their own Hard Hands label in late 1992 and issued the single "Release the Pressure," featuring reggae vocalist Earl Sixteen; "Song of Life" followed, and in 1993 Leftfield scored their first major hit with "Open Up," recorded with John Lydon. Their debut LP, Leftism, was released in 1995; the long-awaited Rhythm and Stealth followed four years later. With only two albums under their belt, Leftfield decided to split in early 2002 to focus on solo projects. The band reunited in 2010 to play a series of festivals and headline dates around the U.K., and in 2013, Daley left the group and returned to his solo career. Barnes carried on and in 2015 released a third Leftfield album, Alternative Light Source. The LP was a mix of current and classic electronica styles with Tunde Adebimpe, the Sleaford Mods, and Channy Leaneagh of Poliça as guests.
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo
© Jason Ankeny /TiVo
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Pop/Rock - Released August 31, 1999 | Hard Hands - Columbia
Distinctions Sélection du Mercury Prize
Perhaps wishing to move from progressive-house flagwavers to trip-hop super-producers on a par with Massive Attack, Leftfield returned after almost five years of silence with a set of blunted trip-hop jams, stoned to say the least -- though glimmers of their house background do show through. Aside from a few uptempo stormers ("Double Flash," "Swords") reminiscent of a slightly less frenetic Jeff Mills, house fans looking for anthems worthy of "Not Forgotten" might be disappointed. The grooves on Rhythm and Stealth are a bit too languid and the productions a bit too intricate for dancefloor consumption. The one track that might make fans yearn for the heady days of 1993, "El Cid," begins with the ephemeral synth for which Leftfield has been known, but soon moves into breakbeat territory. Hip-hop pioneer Afrika Bambaataa makes an appearance on the excellent "Afrika Shox," taking the mic on a brutal electro throwdown. As Rhythm and Stealth shows time and time again, it's definitely not 1993 anymore, and Leftfield has moved on with a grace and mastery of production seldom seen in the dance world. © John Bush /TiVo