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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

Leftism

Leftfield

1995

Buy At Rough Trade
Leftism
Album Summary

Leftism is the debut studio album by English electronic music duo Leftfield, released in 1995 on Columbia Records. It contained a mixture of new tracks along with reworked versions of previous Leftfield singles. The album contains guest spots from musicians not associated with dance music at the time such as John Lydon from Public Image Ltd. (and formerly of Sex Pistols) and Toni Halliday from Curve. The album was described as progressive house, although some journalists found that label too limiting, suggesting the album incorporated many genres. After completing the album, the duo initially were not pleased with it. On its release, the album was well received from the British press with positive reviews from the NME and Q. The album was nominated for the Mercury Prize in 1995 but lost to Portishead's Dummy. Leftism sold well and was released months later in the United States. Critics have praised the album as one of the major album-length works of dance music, with Q referring to it as "the first truly complete album experience to be created by house musicians and the first quintessentially British one".

Wikipedia

Rating

2.91

Votes

11103

Genres

  • Electronica

Reviews

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Mon Apr 05 2021
2

Background music from a PS2 racing game

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Thu Jun 10 2021
2

Well this came out of left field

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Fri Mar 19 2021
1

I definitely could have gone without hearing it before i die

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Mon May 08 2023
1

I’m exhausted by the relentless stream of crap records I’ve been assigned lately. I just want some good music, please. PLEASE. But then I get more 90s English electronic junk… *exasperated sigh*. After 20+ records exactly like this one you’re telling me we still haven’t plumbed the unlistenable depths of that genre yet? Jesus.Fucking.Christ. Enough already!

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Thu Feb 23 2023
2

On their debut album, Leftfield explore some intriguing sonic territory, but end up overstuffing and underwhelming in equal measure. Like all the electronic or house albums I've had so far on the list, it's a product of the 90's CD era and ends up interminably long at 69 minutes, with over half the tracks around the 7 minute mark. The best praise "Leftism" is deserving of is that it's immaculately engineered. Clean, tough and spacious, it sounds great and would surely be a good candidate for showing off a new hi-fi or club sound system. Some of the vocal tracks were intriguing at times: "Release the Pressure" is a solid start, with its fluttering synths and pads gently building into a shapeshifting, pulsing manifesto. Earl Sixteen is a great fit for vocals here, particularly when his ethereal falsetto kicks in at about the four-and-a-half minute mark. One must also admit that it's difficult to imagine something more "left-field" than John Lydon guesting on an EDM record for the very convincing "Open Up": another of the record's high points. And "Melt", mostly beatless, gets top points for crafting an immersive, dreamlike soundscape: perhaps my favourite on here and a side to Leftfield I would have liked to have seen more of. Beyond this, though, the songs I struggled with were hell-bent on degenerating into an endless, pulsing, four-to-the-floor beat, really leaning into house music. "Black Flute" plays all its tricks within about thirty seconds, and then "Space Shanty" is an extreme test of patience over seven minutes, as is "Storm 3000" with its very dated breakbeat. And as much as I liked Toni Halliday's vocals, "Original" just came across as a slightly poor, more dated Massive Attack track. I really did try to like this one, but ultimately it just faded into the background. I get the appreciation its length is much more a factor in its downfall than the skills of the group, as there is some promising material in here. But by the end, I found myself longing for some good old-fashioned songwriting rather than farting around with synths, drum machines and production wizardry.

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Thu Feb 11 2021
4

What a time to be alive, I imagine this was something like the rave generation's Revolver, except instead of the sitar it was ecstacy. Space Shanty is an absolute banger despite the tacky title track

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Tue Jun 15 2021
5

Still listen to this album to this day. So many good tracks, doesn’t get repetitive and one of the best paced albums of all time. Release The Pressure and Inspection are dub classics, Original & Open Up are perfectly cast vocal tracks, top notch. Amazing on the dance floor and through headphones. Leftfield could never have bettered this.

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Tue Jun 29 2021
1

Brand spanking new to me, no idea what this even is. While listening to the album, I read that Leftfield is a duo and they hated this album after they finished it. I agree with them. Probably just not my cup of tea. Hard pass.

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Tue Oct 06 2020
5

Stone cold drugs classic. Brings back hazy memories of being off my face

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Sun May 09 2021
5

Great electronic album. Leftfield was a pioneer in this area in my opinion. The songs stand alone just fine, yet also support listening as a full work together. This album you can focus and zone out on anywhere and still enjoy it.

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Fri May 03 2024
5

That was wonderful, such goood music! Makes me nostalgic for a scene I am to young to have ever been part of. I would never have looked for or found this on my own (I’m more Buddy Holly or Prince Buster, and generally I need lyrics) But give me a glow stick I want to go raving !

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Thu Feb 04 2021
4

I like a fair amount of electronic music from this era, particularly British electronic music, but I never listened to this one somehow. Although it is slightly more dancey than most of what I was listening to back then, this would've fit right in and been a treasured part of the musical landscape. As I think the best electronic music should be, it is a fun headphone ride. I also like all the different influences they incorporate. I gravitate more towards the slower tempo numbers.

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Tue Aug 10 2021
5

Ahh. I cannot fully express how i felt when this appeared as my album of the day. I wasn't 100% sure it would be on the list, as it seems to go a bit under the radar for some reason. One of the most influential electronic albums ever. Here we have classics like "Release the Pressure", "Song of life", "Open Up", "Melt" and "Original". Done in a range of styles from dub to trance but mainly techno. Great vocals delivered from the guest vocalists, including - hold your breath - Johnny Rotten from Sex Pistols (on Open Up). This is a must listen for EVERYONE.

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Thu Jun 10 2021
3

I don't listen to much house (or just electronic music for that matter), so I can appreciate something new like this. The beats are nice, but the ambient parts get a bit hollow and generally drag out for me. I think a large part of this album is that it's meant to be played in a club setting. Lights, dancing, drinks, and socializing would all enhance the music! But in a vacuum, the music has problems keeping me engaged as a I sit here at my computer. Some standout tracks on here (Space Shanty gets especially good with that phaser/flanger. Daft Punk, anyone?), can't say I was into the whole album though.

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Fri Jan 13 2023
3

Good music to listen to while working. A bit repetitive to sit down and listen to

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Fri May 03 2024
2

Not bad electronic dance type music. I really liked "Inspection (Check One)" it has a really nice beat. I had never heard of them before today. Overall not real memorable but I wouldn't be opposed to listening to it at work or as background music for other activities.

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Thu Dec 29 2022
1

You can imagine my disappointment when I realized this wasn't 1980s pop rock group The Outfield (RIP John Spinks). Listening to this album made me want to take a bath with a toaster. Best track: N/A

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Fri Feb 26 2021
5

Now this is more like it! Great album. Loved the mix of trance/rave/D&B/melodic. Space Shanty right up my street. 5/5

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Mon Jun 07 2021
5

One of the strongest electronic albums I’ve heard. It pushes the boundaries of electronica even today. An essential album for any fan of the genre.

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Tue Jul 27 2021
5

I have massive affection for this album - one of the first electronic albums I properly got into after my nothing-but-metal phase. Love electronica that fuses world music into itself. Love an album that wanders over the genre map. Fave track - gotta be "Open Up", really, but love everything on here...

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Sun Oct 31 2021
5

Very very good indeed. Still a classic, with an almost constant maintenance of groove, while not ever being repetitive or tired. It felt innovative in 1995, but still bears up to repeated listening; a true classic of dance/dub mash. Top tracks: Inspection, Original

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Thu Mar 07 2024
5

Etched into my eardrums, Brixton 1996. No complaints.

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Wed Mar 13 2024
5

Yes!! Loved this back in the day, love it now. So much going on. Best listened to very loud

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Wed Mar 13 2024
5

Great electronic album. This album you can focus and zone out on anywhere and still enjoy it.

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Sat Mar 23 2024
5

Progressive house, Electronic, EDM, it all fits here. Excellent production, a wide variety of styles. Works in the background as well as listening intensely with headphones. Some tracks reminded me of Massive Attack, Faithless, and similar acts of that decade.

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Fri Feb 26 2021
4

Finally after 39 long albums Dickie gets his Trance/Rave album! And not just any Rave album. Its the lads that defined the fucking genre at its peak. This was so important they now have an area of Glastonbury named after them and both the chemical brothers and the prodigy (although the latter clearly weren't listening very hard) were influenced by them. I've never listened to the whole thing before and have some new headphones coming this afternoon. So will strap myself in, take some pills (paracetamol or rennie) and get my rave on! Unlike most of this genre- this has love, heart, and a purpose. It holds my attention throughout and is actually fucking interesting which is a major feat for dance music which is usually... well.... boring. Also that is some Album cover. I might buy it just so I can put it up my wall! Actually having checked the price of one of the most rare vinyls in music, maybe I won't. Highlights: 21st Century Poem & Storm 3000 4/5

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Tue Jun 15 2021
4

An amazing melting pot of influences and genres. House, Trance, Dub, Tribal all blended together. Some gorgeous instrumental tracks combined with great vocal tracks, most notably the absolutely banging Open Up. Still sounds amazing today. Great album.

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Thu Feb 10 2022
4

Chemical Brothers, take note! Finally, someone that can do house/trance/EDM without just looping the same refrain over and over and over and over. I really appreciate seeing an album on this list that isn't vocal-centric. There are vocal tracks that come and go, but beats, instruments, sounds and samples are what takes center stage. Each track has a solid foundation that carries throughout, but there is a diverse cast of musical characters that roams into, out of and through each. Likewise there is a flow and continuity to the entire album that makes the whole thing feel like a complete work of art. On the whole the album is equally enjoyable playing in the background or occupying your entire attention span. I'm really glad to have been introduced!

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Wed Sep 21 2022
4

The EDM conundrum. How do I consider music that is essentially written for the clubs and belongs in the clubs? Especially when I am many decades removed from clubs to begin with. I knew a lot of this work from singles that were released before the full length. But this doesn't play like a collection of disparate singles. It holds together as a cohesive statement and is one of the best EDM releases of the 90s.

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Fri Sep 23 2022
4

i was not expecting such a cool album. so rarely have we had an album full of this amount and this level of cool. it's full of creative, unique sounds and not repetitive at all. there's a variety of softer and bouncy, fun songs. with the minimal vocals (and i like how not every track has vocals), the electronic music is the focus! according to the wikipedia article, this album was a pioneer in house music and i can't say i'm surprised. barnes and daley put together such a fun album. looking forward to listening to this more and more.

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Mon Sep 26 2022
4

Happy to report that this is many times better than I remember it. By turns tribal, trancey, dubby, housey and ambient, ‘Leftism’ takes you on a journey, battering you into submission one minute, seducing you the next. It really hits the spot and doesn’t sound dated at all considering it’s almost 30 years old.

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Sun Mar 03 2024
4

I think my music taste is broken because I actually really enjoyed this. Listened to this a few times. Reminds me of old school playstation 1 racing music which was weirdly nostalgic for me.

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Thu Mar 07 2024
4

I had this when it came out, but haven't listened to it in decades. It holds up better than I remembered.

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Thu Mar 14 2024
4

this was a cool album. i think my dad likes these guys. you definitely need to be in the right headspace to receive copious amounts of 90s british electronica, but if you are this is some good shit. favorites: release the pressure, melt, original, space shanty, open up

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Mon May 17 2021
3

It's hard to overestimate the significance of Leftism, roundly acknowledged upon its release in 1995 as the first truly complete album experience to be created by house musicians and the first quintessentially British one.

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Fri Sep 23 2022
3

I found this album to be enjoyable enough, but a lot of the songs drew on a bit longer than I think they needed to. The lengths allowed each track to become a bit repetitive and boring. That aside, the music itself is creative and still holds fairly well, all this time later! If this is really a birthplace for EDM and house music, they really got things right here. I loved the various eastern and new age influences throughout the tracks. Both styles have become prolifically woven into EDM and house music over the years, and if Leftfield is also responsible for that, then they deserve even more brownie points. I do think Release the Pressure and Open Up did a lot of the heavy lifting on the album. While everything was decent; these two tracks are the only real memorable "bangers".

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Fri Sep 22 2023
3

Je m'attendais à une compilation de discours de Bernie Sanders

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Fri Apr 12 2024
2

House noise: don't focus too much on it—an album for multi-tasking.

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Mon Jan 22 2024
1

This is so terrible. I wish I could give minus stars here...

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Sun Apr 11 2021
5

Its like being in a late night European dance club in a great way.

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Sun Nov 07 2021
5

Very cool early house album. Definitely some bumping tracks.

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Thu Nov 18 2021
5

I’ve never heard of this band but really enjoyed their music!

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Wed Jan 26 2022
5

This took me back! What a groundbreaking album this was. They were true techno pioneers.

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Fri Jan 28 2022
5

Never heard of it before!! Dope

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Wed Mar 23 2022
5

Has withstood the test of time

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Mon Sep 05 2022
5

What was that? Jamaican electronic dance music? It was great.

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Mon Oct 24 2022
5

Again I don't have a chance to write my essay style review. This is an album I keep coming back to

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Mon Dec 19 2022
5

The sound of clubbing in the 90s and with the Chemicals and Underworld part of the 'big 3' of dance music bands making actual albums. As successful as either of the others in making an album that sounded like clubbing while actually being listenable to. Lydon and Halliday the coolest guest vocalists as well.

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Thu Feb 09 2023
5

So this album is perfect. Every track could have been a single. It’s my 4th favourite of theirs because, well, they’re Radiohead and they did a lot right. Street Spirit is the best closing track by a band that specialises in closing tracks. This whole album is a happy place. 10/5 Immerse your soul in love.

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Sun Mar 12 2023
5

Its undoubtedly era defining

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Wed Mar 29 2023
5

if I listen at work I feel like a hackerman

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Mon May 01 2023
5

Never had heard of Leftfield prior to this. Sweet jams. I love 'ambient' electro.

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Thu May 18 2023
5

Dance album, highly inspired, not fully listened yet but good first few tracks, pretty psychedelic also

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Sat Jun 17 2023
5

One of the best albums of the 1990s. I bought this on CD from a record shop on Buxton high street some time in probably 1997, or maybe 1998, so I was a little late to the party, but I got there eventually. Everyone in the 90s knew about Leftfield from the Guinness advert, but their stuff was worth way more than mere popularity. This is an absolute pleasure to listen to again.

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Thu Apr 06 2023
5

Album opens with some very sparse synth. A minute and a half in we get some vocals -- sounds like a Gorillaz song (wonder if the same guy). Eventually gives way to a dancey techno beat with some dub influenced samples. Reminds me a little of Shpongle with less DMT. Melt is a pleasant song with some jazzy trumpet warbling above some spacey drum / synth work. I'm enjoying this. Gives way to Song of Life that flips directly into a deep bass line + chant vocal that evokes a sci-fi movie montage. Oh man this song samples the same drumline that Beastie Boys ripped for Looking Down the Barrel Of A Gun (what a fucking jam that is). What a completely different usage here when paired against atmospheric elements rather than the heavy guitar riff that Beastie Boys used. Around the 5 minute mark this just rips into a relentless D&B song. This is peak study / work music; glad to have found it. Original has a whole trip-hop feel to it with the nature of the beat and embedded vocals that rest evenly with the instrumental. Inspection is a jam. Love the dub vocals. Feels like I am living in The Matrix. All around this is a pretty great electronic album. There are a lot of different textures and techniques at play. I found this to be an enjoyable listen end to end. 5/5 will come back.

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Thu Jul 06 2023
5

Damn, where the hell has this been all my life? I was semi-aware of the name Leftfield but I'd never really looked into their work or realised just how much of an influence on electronic they had. I love all things that ooze that mid-90s rave culture, honestly. Unfortunately I was born too late to experience that era first-hand, but the revival of 90s and 00s video game nostalgia as of late (such as those classic/retro "PS1" Jungle playlists suddenly all over YouTube) warms my heart in a great way. Sure enough, a Leftfield B-Side made it into the Wipeout soundtrack, and that happens to be one of my favourite racing game franchises. This is just an amazing journey into a soundscape of electronica, house, dub, trance and all the rest. This is probably wildly enhanced by the 90s British rave trend of being absolutely off your face, but to me it very much holds up without that. I know what I'll soon be seeking out on vinyl, CD or cassette. Favourite: Storm 3000

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Mon Jul 31 2023
5

Love it! I’m not familiar with electronic genres, so this was a revelation!

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Thu Aug 24 2023
5

Epic! Took me to another time and place for sure!

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Sun Aug 27 2023
5

EIIIIIIIII miten voi leftistit tehdä tälläistä musiikkia... 2 tuntnin elektroniikka trance pumputus jarremaista ripottelua möhkäle albumi konsanaan. niin vitun nannaa, ei haittaisi kuunnella tämä albumi vaikka 1001 päivää mutta huomenna herätään ja vastassa 1984 brittiläinen post-punk new wave klassikko jonka takia tapan itseni. kun luette tätä, olen jo kuollut. afro left

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Fri Sep 01 2023
5

I’m a fan of electronic music and this is a great electronic music album! It’s chill, interesting, smooth, and a great addition to my music library. I love it!

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Fri Sep 01 2023
5

Oh, hell yes! One of the best electronica albums we’ve had I think. A delicious and relaxing groove.

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Fri Sep 01 2023
5

I didn't know what to expect as I crawled into bed, slipped the earbuds in and started the album as my bedtime lullaby. I was transported to a cool dance club for 70 minutes and I loved it!

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Fri Sep 22 2023
5

I remember a soccer mom in my Spinning class saying to me while we were climbing out of the saddle to Afro Left, “This is really weird – but I Love it!”. While there’s an infinite number of great electronic dance music singles out there, this is, in my books, the greatest dance music album. 1001 has thrown us the top LPs by Leftfield's peers, the Chemical Brothers, Prodigy, Daft Punk & Fat Boy Slim and while Leftism may not have a catchy chart-topping hit, the album is much more listenable. Of course, they cheat a bit by mixing in other musical styles, most notable reggae, but House Music is still at the core. And compared to their peers, Leftism still sounds fresh nearly 30 years later. This is the first time ever that my co-judge has asked me to turn up the music at dinner.

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Mon Dec 11 2023
5

There's really no album quite like this. There was a move in the 90s for dance music to get more serious. Artists like Underworld and Faithless were making albums that worked equally well in a club or in your bedroom with headphones on. A catchy beat wasn't enough, you needed more complex production, interesting lyrics and engaging art. Leftfield were definitely part of that corner of the music scene, but took it in a different direction. This is a very eclectic collection, covering all different styles of music. It's all over the place but fits together perfectly. Who ever would have thought that getting Johnny Rotten to sing on a techno song would work so well?

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Mon Dec 18 2023
5

Miellyttävä 2010s kokemus on aina 5 star.... rima alhaalla mutteivät rakkaat lamppaat paljoa sitä hypi verrattain meikäpojan unilähtölaskentojen,,,, prkl laskee laskee ja laskee ja vieläkin lasketaan..... T Heh albumissa ei paljoa tartte laskeskella.. voi antaa musiikin soida kunnes ei soi..

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Thu Dec 21 2023
5

surprisingly good electronic

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Fri Jan 05 2024
5

My favorite album, ever ever ever

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Wed Jan 17 2024
5

This is a top 25, maybe top 10 album for me. It’s so ahead of its time!

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Thu May 16 2024
5

Awesome. Pure 90s dance music.

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Fri May 17 2024
5

One of the best albums in this genre, revolutionary shit

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Thu May 30 2024
5

I didn't really consider myself a fan of house music, but if this is progressive house, I'm a fan. I loved the album and I've just bought it.

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Fri Jun 14 2024
5

Though it definitely dips into some experiments that don't always work for me, overall the work solidly hits a vibe for me. It is the style of electronic that i really enjoy if they can get that vibe right and then decorate it to keep it interesting. This was a complete surprise and really really enjoyed it.

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Wed Jun 19 2024
5

Great stuff, i get people dont like it, but its good

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Fri Jun 28 2024
5

All the cool kids listened to this. If you went to a party at someone's house in 95/96 this would be playing. I didn't listen to it, because I was insufferable, and convinced that if there weren't guitars, bass etc, then it wasn't PROPER music. Naturally I was wrong. Whilst this also led to a load of bang-average UK electronica around the same time, this undoubtedly changed the music scene. And John Lydon snarling his way through "Open Up" as well.

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Fri May 28 2021
4

I really liked this one! Electronic albums aren't always my thing, but I appreciated the musical influences here, specifically the rock sounds throughout the record. I think I was initially thrown off a bit by the vocals, but it grew on me.

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Mon Apr 19 2021
4

cool album. never heard it before

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Wed Feb 24 2021
4

Tried like hell to find the theme from "Shallow Grave" only to discover it not on this record. Still, I believe it was this album that led me to enjoy Aphex Twin and Autechre as opposed to radio stuff like Fatboy Slim.

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Fri May 21 2021
4

Yeah, another good 90s 'classic' techno album. Pretty decent genre overall

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Mon Feb 01 2021
4

Nice rave. Brought me right back to club days.

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

Gestern schon geschrieben: aufgrund der für mich wirklich schrecklichen Single "Open Up" waren Leftfield bei mir durchs Raster gefallen - nachdem ich ihre früheren Tracks (gehört natürlich in der Steve Mason Experience auf BFBS) alle ziemlich super gefunden hatte. Dann noch ein komisches Cover, plötzlicher Popstar-Status und viel zu viel Konkurrenz auf dem Mark - zack, hat man sich das alles seit 26 Jahren nicht mehr angehört. Hat also einen schönen Time-Capsule-Effekt: dieses warme Acidgeblubber, die kitschen Trance-Flächen, die (UK represent!) immer wieder eingestreuten Breakbeats: man möchte direkt wieder auf die Loveparade! Ist sicher nicht Technos größter Wurf, wundere mich auch ein bisschen warum gerade die auf der Liste gelandet sind (vermutlich wegen Popstar-Status damals), aber macht auf jeden Fall Spaß. Voll verdiente 3,8!

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Thu Apr 29 2021
4

Beats technoid clubtauglicher als in Erinnerung - selbst zum Frühstück ein geiles Teil, das in einem Vierteljahrhundert nix an Sattheit verloren hat. Das Album hat für mich zwar keinerlei narrativen Wert , dafür sind die Einzelteile in der Auslage aber sehr hübsch anzuschauen. Funkelnde 4.1

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Fri Jun 04 2021
4

8/10. Giving this the benefit of the doubt as I didn't get a very clear listen due to having my windows rolled down on the freeway to combat the lack of AC. What I could hear of it sounded pretty cool though, and I expect I'll come back to this later.

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Tue Jun 22 2021
4

a Groove Salad mainstay. good ambient beats.

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Fri May 07 2021
4

Not a top level belter for me but a belter nevertheless

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