Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Open Up

Song: Open Up
Artist: Leftfield
Album: Leftism

It was around the time that The Prodigy released their breakthrough third album "The Fat of the Land" that the American music market was told that techno was the new grunge. The European acceptance of the musical movement, and "rave culture" was the touchstone for this, but it didn't really happen. Grunge had just become another genre in "alternative music" (which had been "moden rock" and now, "indie") and pop and hip-hop continued to be the dominant pop music force. So while "techno" (a term I don't even think is used anymore) never truly blew up, electro and electronica sort of happened bridging the gap between this new dance culture and what had already happened with disco in the 70's and new wave in the 80's. While I was too into the American alternative and not so much into dance at the time, I was missing some progressive dance music and killer "techno" albums that were defining the movement and changing what we know as the dance music album.

One record that made it's mark during this time was 1995's "Leftism" the debut album from Leftfield, a duo comprised of record producers Paul Daley and Neil Barnes. It began a movement toward "intelligent dance music" and "progressive house," but were one of the first to use elements of reggae and dub into house music. The album is a mix of spiritual new-agish world music and house, sort of a more dancy Enigma. Today it sounds a little dated, (like the rave scenes in "Go") but you can tell it's made for a "mind expanding" experience, and no doubt a favorite for ravers and those partial to ecstasy.

Opener "Release the Pressure," which breaks seven minutes, gives you a good idea what you're in store for. A slow, organic build, into hard-driving (yet uncomplicated) beats. The album is a journey, and delves into trip-hop, drum and base, and a variety of sub-genre's over it's nearly 70 minutes. I'm not sure what I would have thought of this, or if I would have gotten into dance music more at the time if I'd heard this at it's time of release. But now at fifteen years old, I see how it could have inspired many new up and coming dance artists, and brought the concept of the "dance album" back into the fold. "Open Up" was the first single and almost seems like a time capsule. If you like it, you'll dig this album.

An important moment in dance music history.


Open Up

Release the Pressure


No comments: