LFO sneak into Glasgow.


Manual labour

ndrea Baxter listens to LFO getting technical about the current scene in the north-east ofEngland.

For those of us still trying to get a grip on the Madchester crossover phenomenon. forget it: the next big hype is elsewhere in the north-east. With the regeneration ofdance in the 80s came the birth of a new monster. the bleep-thud-twiddle sound oftechno. Positively revelling in repetition, anonymity and the confusing habit of borrowing from each other‘s records (thus ruling them out completely for a trendy version of Name That Tune). techno's practitioners see themselves as part of a more European tradition than the cute indie crossover bands. No floppy fringes, psychedelic gear or winsome lyrics in fact. no lyrics at all for this lot. a motley crew ofproducers. DJs. sound engineers and technicians content to stay behind their mountainous stacks ofequipment and let others be recognised buying toilet rolls in Safeway.

But while forerunners like Kraftwerk languished in cult obscurity, techno has attracted an ever-growing number of young. excruciatingly fashionable. hard-living adherents who wouldn‘t normally touch a record on an indie label with the tip of a Gaultier glove. They‘ve even. despite the stranglehold of Radio One. which prefers good. old-fashioned songs (well, old-fashioned songs. anyway). managed to have a few chart hits. with records like LFO‘s imaginatively titled ‘LFO'

breaking through even to singles buyers who only visit clubs once a year. And the North-East connection? For some reason, a lot ofthese keyboard wizards seem to come from Sheffield, where, according to i-D and The Face, the scene is huge.

LFO. however, are denying all knowledge: ‘We're from Leeds, actually. We don’t know anything about that,’ says Jes, one halfof the mysterious duo. They do admit, though, that techno has a reputation for being boring and unimaginative, but put this down to bandwagon jumpers. ‘There‘s loads of rubbish records out. people who don‘t know anything about the music just rushing to get a record out ‘cause techno‘s in now. They release them deliberately only on white label to be trendy but they wouldn‘t know a drum heat from a sample,’ says fellow knob-twiddler Mark. He maintains that using the latest technology available needn’t necessarily lead to cold and soulless music, and that techno is essentially progressive.

‘Look, in Robin Hood‘s day people blew trumpets but there weren‘t any valves on them you know, the things you press down with your fingers— so to change the note you just had to blow hard or soft or move the position of your mouth. But someone must have invented valves and people probably called it cheating and said it wasn’t proper trumpet-playing. Ifcomputers had been around at the time of Beethoven he wouldn’t have bothered with big pianos and massive orchestras. he’d have been able to do it all himself.‘

Maybe, but would the results have been the same? An example: on phoning up LFO‘s record company the phone suddenly started to emit some strange high-pitched bleeps and squeaks. ‘Don‘t worry about it.‘ said the voice at the other end, ‘it sounds just like one ofour records.‘ You can’t say that about Beethoven. (Andrea Baxter) LFO play Vertigo in Glasgow on 10 Feb as part of the Network/Warp tour which also includes Nightmares on Wax and Rhythmatic.



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