This release is right in line with Leftfield’s name: after sixteen years the group suddenly brings their third album, straight out of the left field. Alternative Light Source will hopefully see the group continue where they left off, trying to forge the perfect balance between the unexpected, and exquisitely catchy electronics. Latest collabs: Channy Leaneagh (Poliça), Ofei, Tunde Adebimpe (TV On The Radio) and Sleaford Mods.
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Leftfield isn’t really an act that has impressed me in the past. After being recommended a certain album and digging into their back catalogue, their sound came across as a bit dated after being exposed to modern dance styles. Not quite committing to house, techno, trance or dub, the group became a legendary crossing point for the disparate scenes and had remained that way for 16 years.
One half of the original duo has returned to the dancefloors to presumably show Jamie XX how it’s done. This time around, the music is noticeably thicker and more pumping, with the dodgily-titled second track ‘Universal Everything’ sounding like a good Chemical Brothers battle weapon. The thing that perhaps hasn’t changed a huge amount is the general intricacy of the more uptempo movers - they always made their point simply, with a singular lead synth line and a big beat to match, and for this banger and ‘Little Fish’, it really works.
It doesn’t come together so well for the collaborations though, with a slightly weak Emika-esque emotional dinge tune featuring Polica’s Channy Leaneagh and another where Sleaford Mods’ Jason Williamson turns up to talk shit about chicken and chips. “Head and shoulders, dandruff warriors” - u wot?? I just don’t think his geeza vocal works well with Leftfield’s hi-fi production style. It’s a bit awkward sounding.
Things get a bit trappy on ‘Storms End’, luckily without the annoying vocal samples and instead wobbling waves of grime synth. These synths seem to turn up everywhere, even on the caressing chill tones of the titular tune. Sometimes they’re a bit too much for the context, but without them Leftfield wouldn’t be Leftfield. Overall, I’d say that Leftfield has shown that he can truly command the dancefloor, but hasn’t succeeded with their, well, leftfield productions.
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