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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Electronic - Released June 8, 2015 | Infectious Music
The Matrix and Fight Club were in theaters the last time Leftfield released an album, and in those 16 years, the former duo lost a member as Paul Daley has moved on to a solo career, leaving Neil Barnes the sole proprietor. In spite of this, 2015's Alternative Light Source picks up right where 1999's Rhythm and Stealth left off, and it does so without ignoring the modern sound. "Head and Shoulders," a wobbly highlight that recalls LFO or Mr. Oizo, brings in current group the Sleaford Mods to help bring the album up to time with an indie "dandruff warriors" rap, while Channy Leaneagh of Poliça is an asset to her two tracks, wailing like a progressive house siren should during "Bilocation" and expertly auditioning for Underworld on the robot dancefloor wonder dubbed "Little Fish." The winding "Bad Radio" with Tunde Adebimpe is heavenly, Gary Numan-esque, and a bit like being in a Blade Runner character's head, and yet the complicated number is a perfect example of how Barnes is true to the Leftfield aesthetic, as all these guests are surrounded by dark and spacy house music, sometimes epic and sometimes intricate. The lack of urgency is also welcome, with Alternative Light Source slowly unfurling as the most natural and comfortable Leftfield album to date, and one confident enough to exit on "Levitate for You," a bold and bare R&B song somewhere between Prince and 4hero. © David Jeffries /TiVo