"ON YOUR MARKS, GET SET, GAUCHE"

Who the f*** are LEFTFIELD? Giant pandas of techno positivitism, faceless bores who had a hit with Johnny Rotten, or VR sex pervs? Don't bother asking DAVID BENNUN, because this, as he all but confesses in the first line, is the music he shags washing machines to.

TECHNOLOGY is not your friend. It is your lover.

In the clean, business-like throb of Leftfield's music lies the future of sex. Not of real sex, of course, which will remain swampy, slippery, undignified and exhausting, if you do it right, but of fantasy. Perfect body, instinctive knowledge, luminescent passion tempered with exquisite knowledge - and your partner will be pretty hot too. Because that's what we secretly want - not merely to f*** the beautiful, but to look beautiful while we do it. And should that ever come to pass, which for most of us it never can, this is the music we will do it to. For hours. And come apart at the end satiated and not in the least bit sore.

You may have guessed that I kind of like this album. And while I have no intention of playing it to prospective partners, who are usually too busy fending me off with their white sticks to concentrate, it makes me feel good. Calm. Confident. And just the tiniest bit horny. This is no doubt a surprise to Leftfield, who probably intended the record (if they intended it as anything at all) as a vague statement on matters more spiritual and global.

Leftfield have built a deserved reputation on a handful of singles and a few remixes of other outfits. They are about as prolific as giant pandas, but everything - literally, everything - of their making that I have ever heard, I have marvelled at. Most of the singles are here. "Release The Pressure" and "Song Of Life" appear in updated form and, mirabile dictu, none the worse for that. "Open Up" is here, too, an incongruous but necessary arc of bile jetted in the face of positivity. Of all the tracks, it's the most driven, although everything Leftfield do is driven, whether it be chauffeured on floating suspensions or thrust across salt flats with the unarguable carnal urge of ridiculous and unrelenting speed.

Maybe that's why it's so sexy. Maybe it's a car-and-drive thing, all about power, control and response. But that doesn't account for "Afro Left", which turns a spoken African vocal into music, takes words without meaning (unless you speak the language of whatever country it may be, in which case either you came from there or should be sent there pronto), and infuses them with virtual melody. It's so original, so brilliantly conceived and mellifluously executed that it's almost shocking when you first hear it. The same goes for much of the rest. Aptly enough "Original" is used as a title: the song gives gainful employment to Toni Halliday, whose cold and disconnected passions fit Leftfield's sensuous, distant dub even more smoothly than they did Curve's fey barrage. "You're an original, got your own path." Well, if ever a band has earned the right to serenade itself...

"Leftism" is a rare album, one on which no track lacks for invention or fails to give pleasure. Even the gentler passages - "Melt", "Storm 3000" - drift over the ambient mire like weather. It has its weaknesses, sure, all the usual nebulous guff about peace, unity and everlasting love, three prospects which have always struck me as stretching the boundaries of hope a little too far. I'd settle for a good, cheap margarita within the shores of the British Isles. And the closing number calls itself "21st Century Poem", managing two appalling lapses in the space of three words (never date yourself with a sweeping future vision, and never bring the word "poem" within breeding distance of pop music), the poem itself is pretty grisly in a "Blowin' In The Wind" sort of way. But, mostly I'm too entranced to notice such trivial flaws, and I embark on them only out of sense of duty as a paid pettifogger and pinchtwister.

"Leftism" is sublime nonetheless, a total joy, and, if I never get to have sex to it, it's because I don't deserve to.

review by David Bennun (nicked from Melody Maker, dated 21 January 1995)

top of page