So I am standing up the back of The Sight just before the Aphex
Twin starts DJing, talking to David Thrussel of Snog and Black
Lung. "I can always tell when someone's new to the scene
- they come up and ask what's playing when I'm mixing something
from LFO's Frequencies album", he tells me matter-of-factly.
Back in 1991, LFO stormed the charts in England and a more than
a few dancefloors here with Frequencies and its many singles,
especially What Is House?. Then all fell silent until a year or
so ago when a collaboration with Richie Hawtin surfaced, and in
the last two months the long awaited follow-up album, Advance
Mark Bell has just woken up after a long night at a friend's party
down at the local, and now I understand why every interview with
LFO always begins at the pub. Solo work as Speedjack on R&S
and G-Man on Swim, a label belonging to Colin Newman from post-punk
popsters Wire, has kept Mark busy between LFO records. "We've
worked with a lot of people, we did some stuff with Kraftwerk,
Radiohead, Bjork, Art Of Noise, Yellow Magic Orchestra . . . .
I've always listen to all sorts of music really - I do like electronic
stuff, but I also really like indie music . . . . you see I live
in Leeds and there are lots of clubs catering to students - there's
jazz, funk, 70s, disco, techno, hip hop".
Advance, explains Mark, is made up of "some stuff from three
years ago and some are more recent . . . we recorded literally
millions of bits and pieces and picked the one's that we thought
fitted best together as an album so you could listen to it all
the way through . . . . when I was last on holidays with my friends
I grabbed a whole lot of tapes and listened to them all and most
were really boring - just one theme. It'd be really nice if you
could have one album with lots of different styles and moods and
that's what we've tried to do . . . . the tracks on Advance,
I wouldn't say are the best tracks we've done, but they fitted
well and reflected a range of moods . . . . some of the others
may be released but I'm not sure how".
Preceded by the industrial S&M nightmare of the first single,
Tied Up, Mark enthuses on the making of the video, "David
Slade, the director, really liked the music, and ended up doing
the video for free after we'd had a bit too much to drink one
night. That's why it turned out the way it did . . . . I haven't
shown my mum - I keep telling her we never got around to making
it". A collage of Jez and Mark tied to chairs with face masks
being hurled around a padded cell, the Tied Up clip is
not one you'd be likely to see much on the telly, except for perhaps
Rage at 3am, "it got screened a lot in Germany but only a
few times in England. Interestingly it was the heavy metal shows
that played it in Germany, not the techno ones . . . . and a mate,
David, who I've known since I was fifteen has always been into
heavy metal and so I've always been listening to that sort of
music as well".
LFO will, with any luck, be touring Australia sometime around
May possibly with stablemates Autechre. Things are yet to be fully
confirmed but mark seems quite relaxed about it all enjoying his
easy life; "neither Jez nor I have to go to work, we can
survive off doing the odd live performance, and a spot of DJing.
When we play live we done it three main ways, once with real analogue
gear - keyboards, synthesisers, the lot - which ended up being
a total nightmare to patch together; then we've also done it with
just samplers which ended up being more of mixdown-type situation;
and lastly we've also done it off reel-to-reel tape decks . .
. as for bouncing around, it depends".
"There's a lot of rubbish out at present, simply because
people see what is going on and then try to copy it . . . . I
don't really like a lot of jungle and there are only a few tracks
that are any good. Everybody uses that same noise that sounds
like someone falling down the stairs with a drumkit, and they
tend to all have the same feelings in them. Forget what instruments
you use and work out what feeling you are creating - sad, or happy,
or dancing. A lot of what's going on now is created by the media
- jungle, trip hop, electro - its all the same sort of thing .
. . . I think its the music industry as well as the DJs themselves
- they don't play other music, they just play one style, and they
think that if they don't just do that the crowd will think it
is rubbish and walk out. So they just end up playing almost the
one record label all through the night and its really boring .
. . . my favourite club would be one that played the best of hip
hop the best of the new techno, the best of old house, not just
playing things because they're new. In Leeds we have this club
called the Orbit where they have all the best DJs in all the different
styles every Saturday and recently they've had Robert Armani,
Richie Hawtin and Joey Beltram as guests, and so it comes pretty
close I suppose".
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