Leftfield - Alternative Light Source

by Rob Taylor Rating:7 Release Date:2015-06-08

Progressive house frontiersmen Leftfield return after 16 years with Alternative Light Source. This new album reminds us that superior DJ dance production can still kick arse, years after Sasha and Digweed took to minimalism, and the market for pingers bottomed out. A return to the clubbin 90s? Raise your hands in the air like you just don’t care. Obsolescence. Never. 

Neil Barnes is going it alone without Paul Daley, but the franchise always depended to some extent on collaborations, most famously with Johnny Lydon on ‘Open Up’, Afrika Bombaataa on ‘Afrika Shox’, and Cheshire Cat on ‘Release the Pressure’. On Alternative Light Source, they pick it up with Sleaford Mods, Poliça Singer Channy Leaneagh, and TV on the Radio’s Tunde Adebimpe. Promising stuff.

Track ‘Universal Everything’ is a brain macerating club track on a steady build, reaching for and achieving its promised exaltation mid-track (3:45).  Loved-up pansexuals everywhere will rejoice at the return of quality trance, and its incipient promise of ecstatic rapture. When radial strobe lights synchronise with musical pulse, sometimes it feels as if your immediate surrounds progress only frame by frame, and ‘Universal Everything’ is a great track to get lost in. Off to the Island of Vice with this standout.

‘Shaker Obsession’ is another. Bleeps and odd frequencies lurch forward and lean backwards over a steady club beat becoming progressively irregular, the treble in the electronic sounds sharpening momentarily before a minute of darkening percussion brings you back into firmer dance territory. 

Channy Leaneagh is the perfect foil to the dark minimalist beats on ‘Bilocation’. Admittedly, the track would not have taxed her enormously but the austere voice is well matched nonetheless. Another fantastic number. 

Tunde Adebimpe’s voice is over-processed, and ‘Bad Radio’ sounds a bit like Tricky’s trip-hop forays. Sleaford Mods on ‘Head and Shoulders’ provide the Underworld moment, their jaundiced hip-hop rants providing great variation across a ‘Dark and Long’ style soundtrack.

This collaboration is the most successful, at least insofar as showcasing the artist’s talents. Really though, it’s the big dance outings that attract the attention. 

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