The London-based Lo-Fidelity Allstars belong to the same generation of dance
music as Chemical Brothers and
Fatboy Slim. Unlike them, though, LFA represent
a "street" approach to dance music, rooted in urban alienation and decadence.
The album How To Operate With A Blown Mind (Skint, 1998) sounds like
a concept about life in the city, even while the music samples (literally and
metaphorically) half a century of dance styles, from soul to funk, from
dub to house, from hip hop to trip-hop.
Dave "Wrekked Train" Randell's unfriendly vocals almost collide with the
thick sonic collage and especially with the frequent nods to old-fashioned
In that respect, LFA recalls Renegade Soundwave,
another combo that was stradling the border between the punk culture and
the rave culture.
After the ritual exorcism of Warming Up The Brain Farm
(that rises into almost symphonic hip hop),
tracks like Kool Roc Bass and Battle Flag
wed Hawkwind's space-rock, James Brown's lusty/tribal funk, Stax's morbid soul
and Stone Roses' psychedelic shuffle.
Blisters On My Brain (previously released as Disco Machine Gun)
borrows from Talking Heads' futuristic world-funk and from Aqua's novelty ditties
to keep the techno locomotive running at full steam.
Lazer Sheep Dip Funk sets
Kraftwerk's robotic folk to the pace of Shaft-style funk.
The vocals often borrow the wailing vowels from muezzin chanting and
Tibetan mantras, so much so that funk novelties like
Kasparov's Revenge end up sounding like spiritual invocations.
Elsewhere, LFA is trying to refound sweet and slow dance music by absorbing the
sound of late Pink Floyd and OMID-era synth-pop.
The grotesque rap of Vision Incision is merely a pretext for a
9-minute digression on orchestral disco-soul.
The album is innovative, pensive and even erudite (in its acknowledging the classics)
but ultimately it lacks the masterpiece that would turn it into universal art.
Suddenly, Don't Be Afraid Of Love (Skint, 2002) turns to soul and funk
Deep Ellum Hold On, Kool Rok Bass,
Somebody Needs You (with Greg Dulli on vocals),
On The Pier (with Bootsy Collins on vocals)
are lame takes on that tradition.
Lo Fi's In Ibiza, Tied To The Mast, Sleeping Faster, and
the old-fashioned disco-music of Feel What I Feel keep the joyful beats
coming, but it's too little and too late.
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