In January 1995 Leftfield released their debut album Leftism via their own Hard Hands label distributed by Sony / Columbia. Whilst the big record label backing would have helped it hit the more prominent shop shelves – it was the diverse nature of what was largely Progressive House music with wide encompassing eclectic style that saw it both sell and be so well received.
For a House album to flick the imagination switch so well Leftfield arguably do not get the long lasting credibility for the shake up they helped forge some 21 years ago. The album works as an album, its length, vibe, ups and downs take the listener on a journey akin to going to a festival and sampling music from many genres into a polished pumping melting pot. Whilst The Prodigy had already made a big generational impression Leftism somehow pulled electronic music into a more mature arena – not an easy task to pull off.
Release the Pressure has the hallmarks of a great album opener gently easing the listener in before 4 by 4 beats take the album in its true spiritual direction. The following track, Afro-Left changes the vibe and ups the ante. The vocal delivery by Djum Djum, practically in tongues, gives the track an earthy yet wild organic force. This coupled with heavier driving beats increasingly getting deeper and showing a House album can work in a more traditional sense too.
Melt nods back to Jean Michel Jarre with clean simple electronica albeit one with a tribal feel. Song Of Life with its slow sample led rolling beat switches at its half way point into a growing beast, beats which let loose with side swiping thuds. Heavy Metal House (almost).
Original features Toni Halliday from Curve on guest vocals – and you can’t get much more 90’s than that. An imaginary movie is flitted through in near dream state vocals enveloped by fizzing electronica and subtle beats. Hard 4 by 4 beats return on Black Flute and the late rave feel is dark and lively. Space Shanty swirls about for a minute and a half before ramping them beats up even further. Pounding rhythm with glimpses of light – electronic intrusions somehow echoing both guitar solos and bicycle pumps.
Inspection (Check One) paints a solid picture with a grounded firm beat and the late night feel is signalling an end for the first time. This continues on the pick up again vibe of Storm 3000. A House album walking into encore territory as its energy fizzes yet staggers about with a grin on its face.
…and if there is an encore it’s Open Up. The guest vocal of John Lydon is almost too well placed. Left of centre Punk vocalist on a left of centre House album – “Leftism” if you will. Open Up burns it self away with electronic soundscapes that give way to the mellow album closer 21st Century Poem.
A House album that sits up with many classic albums from other genres. A feat that back in ’95 was hard to imagine working on such a level. The shark jaws on the album cover may snare you but its the music and vibe that give Leftism its longevity and expansion. Beats over brawn…