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Baker's Dozen

Semi-Chaotic Elements: Ekoplekz' Favourite Albums
The Quietus , June 4th, 2015 11:11

With his third album on Planet Mu out, Nick Edwards gives us an in-depth trawl through his top 13 LPs, a Baker's Dozen that scans his formative 90s electronica influences and acts as a "reference point" to Reflekzionz

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LFO - Frequencies
Even though I'm a Bristolian, born and bred, I long held a romanticised view that the North was the spiritual home of electronic music in England. My perspectives have widened a bit since then, but certainly at that time I revered places like Manchester and Sheffield on account of Factory Records, Cabaret Voltaire, The Human League, etc.

Funnily enough, I was about to embark on a weekend away in Manchester with some mates when I discovered LFO's Frequencies album. Before we set off, we popped into the local HMV looking for some new cassettes to play in the car for the three-hour journey up north. There was a little display of Warp stuff at the front of the shop. Frequencies was brand new and I hadn't heard anything about it but obviously the track 'LFO' was already huge so I bought it, along with the first Warp compilation, Pioneers Of The Hypnotic Groove. Well, suffice to say both those cassettes blew my tiny mind to smithereens and I played little else for about a month. That first compilation pretty much covers the label's initial period, when Robert Gordon was an equal third of the management, and you can still hear there was a depth and spatiality to those records that was just like nothing else happening in the burgeoning UK rave scene at that time. And the fact that the label was based in Sheffield and all the artists were from the North just totally reinforced my belief system. They even had Richard H. Kirk involved with his Sweet Exorcist project. I subsequently tracked down all the original 12" singles and some of the stuff coming out on outlying labels like Chill, Ozone and Bassic Records. Also the Network label in Birmingham was putting out some great homegrown 'bleep and bass' tracks too, but without the internet and Discogs, etc, it was all a bit hit and miss; you picked up records and little bits of info here and there. There was always that slightly mysterious, semi-chaotic element to tracking down records back then.

Frequencies still remains one of the crowning achievements of the early British techno/rave scene. They were just a couple of kids from Leeds but somehow they managed to make a long-playing record that had plenty of dancefloor functionality, yet was still a totally satisfying album that stood up to repeated listening. It still sounds great today, unlike, say, a Bizarre Inc or Altern 8 album. As the decade progressed I listened to lots of album-length British techno releases, and there were plenty of good ones, particularly the first few Orbital albums, plus odd things like The Electric Mothers Of Invention by Neuro # Project, Ultramarine's wonderfully pastoral United Kingdoms and some of the harder stuff by Dave Angel, Luke Slater and Christian Vogel, to name a few. I was never keen on Underworld or Leftfield; I thought they were a bit boring. But I've never tired of listening to those early LFO records. And they got on the cover of NME, symbolically smashing up some electric guitars and pissing off all the fey indie kids. RIP Mark Bell.


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