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I thought: "Brilliant! I can give this to Warp and they won't pester me every two years."

Alan Connor gets wrapped up in Sheath by LFO (Warp Records)


19 September 2003

Mark Bell of LFO spent his teenage years breakdancing and playing computer games. I spent mine hating Steve Wright and playing computer games. Mark carried on his passion for music, becoming an internationally successful producer, but I somehow allowed my own passion for getting angry at Mr. Angry to fade away.

That was, until Wrighty came back into my life as the voiceover on TOTP2. It's not his weekly observation that people wore different clothes in the 1970s that infuriates me so much as his penchant for ending the show with videos of middle-aged bottle blondes singing commercial country.

Half these songs haven't even been hits, but to Wrighty, the acoustic guitars and the facsimile haybales make it all authentic-and-soulful. He’s doggone wrong.

He's been wrong before, of course. When LFO's single "LFO" hit #12, Wrighty had to play it, and he wigged out, telling his listeners it was "the worst record in the world". Ironically, if there were ever a band who show that Wrighty's hated computer music can get far more authentic-and-soulful than Hat Country, it may as well be LFO.

Apart from that hit, you may well know LFO. You may know the type: the band began when Mark saw that his girlfriend's dad had bought a drum machine, and persuaded him that electronic music was soulless crap so that he could buy the kit off him. And you may have heard Mark’s other work, like the gorgeous Björk songs from Dancer in the Dark, or the production job he did for his childhood heroes Depeche Mode: Exciter, which kept getting to #1 everywhere.

During his “time off”, there were new LFO tracks, but they weren't getting released, or even filed properly. Luckily a friend of Mark's was making copies of them, eventually putting his favourites together as a mixtape for the car. And seven years after LFO's last release, Mark heard them: "I couldn't remember doing half of them, and it sounded like an album".

And it does. His friend has a canny ear for the track order, and the beat comes and goes more-or-less as you'd want it to if the album had been conceived in one go. Perhaps its natural home remains the car. The two sides would make for a great journey, even if you have to plan a 47-minute trip around the two “sides”. On Side A, an initial phatness gives way to a good period of pleasing squelch, which would ideally take you through the sunset. And just dark fell, Side B would be there to wake you back up so the album's dignified contemplative end would come as you pulled up at your destination.

It's a pity, though, that the dancy "Freak" was chosen as the single. The track just after it is superior, and I'd like for it to give LFO another hit – just so I could request it during Steve Wright's Sunday Love Songs and hear him say "I hope you have a lovely wedding. This is LFO with 'Mummy, I've had an accident.'"




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