Seismic at Glasgow School of Art, Fri 17 Nov
This night is a bit of a coup for Glasgow techno barons Seismic, in that they’ve managed to procure one of Britain’s leading techno originators for the occasion. Having seen the style emerge in Detroit at the end of the 80s, LFO - and in particular their groundbreaking track of the same name - helped draw the blueprint for minimal, bass-heavy electronica that sounded somehow not of this world when it first dropped at the end of that decade. It’s a quaint and interesting fact that the robotic vocal sample on such a milestone track was created using an old Amiga.
Formed in Leeds, LFO were originally a duo comprised of university mates Mark Bell and Gez Varley. Their bedroom crafting had already resulted in the demo of ‘LFO’ (which was originally released on the nascent Nightmares On Wax) when it was played out at a nightclub in the pair’s home city. As luck would have it, in attendance that night were Warp Records founders Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell, and so LFO ended up transferring their talents to another soon-to-be-seminal label.
It’s been a long association so far, with 2003’s Sheath the latest LFO album to appear on the imprint. In that time the duo have become one, with Varley leaving in 1997 to start a project named Feedback and Bell forging on as LFO. In the intervening six years Bell also helped produce Björk’s Homogenic and Depeche Mode’s Exciter albums (a pair of worthy additions to a CV that already included LFO’s classic Frequencies), and Sheath has been praised as a record which strips techno back to its original, hip hop influenced roots.
It might be a tempter to describe this appearance as a trip down memory lane. Perhaps better, though, to acknowledge it as another chapter in the career of a man who helped forge modern electronic music in this country.