LEFTFIELD - THIS IS WHAT WE DO
The first album in 7 years from seminal electronic music pioneers and twice Mercury Prize Nominated, Leftfield. Currently reaching a new audience through Idris Elba's Gucci ad, this is their 4th album in their 28 year history. Its a dancefloor album full of big sounds, big songs and a big production. Its Leftfield at their purest.
Leftfield (originally comprised of Neil Barnes and Paul Daley), have been at the cutting edge of dance music since the 1990s, releasing albums that have become some of the most influential electronic records of all time around the world with their debut LP Leftism being widely regarded as one of the most boundary-pushing electronic LPs ever released.
In 2010, Neil Barnes reignited the Leftfield name, and went on to release an acclaimed album (Alternative Light Source) touring the world with the full live band. Neil has also been cementing his reputation as a top-tier DJ and record collector unleashing modern dance floor weapons, selling out venues, headlining festivals and creating some amazing nights with his sets.
CD and RT LP Version with a bonus CD of demos.
As one of the UK's most definitive electronic music acts, Leftfield have cultivated their own distinct sonic identity from day one. Originally comprised Neil Barnes and Paul Daley, Leftfield's standing within the canon of dance music history is unparalleled. Over 30 years since they formed, now led solely by Barnes, the act remains at the forefront of cutting-edge production and progressive philosophies. With their fourth studio album This Is What We Do, Leftfield maintain their legacy of radicalism, embodying the core principles of dance music culture: subversive, progressive and inclusive. It's an album that reflects the current climate, a positive, energy-fueled response to the world's ills which also explores themes around connection, love, acceptance, diversity and healing. Poised to return to the electronic music world with an LP that is as incendiary and visceral as it is emotive and positive, Leftfield uphold their undisputed position as one of Britain's original trailblazers.
Though several of its tracks were conceived pre-Pandemic, This Is What We Do was completed on the other side of the global shutdown. Such extraordinary circumstances of course had a huge impact on the music Neil produced, along with his studio partner Adam Wren, who was pivotal to the album's creation. Neil's own personal health woes also fed into the creative process. Diagnosed with bowel cancer in 202, he underwent surgery and is, thankfully, in remission. However, the protracted process around his diagnosis and treatment had a severe effect on his wellbeing. The complexity and nuance surrounding Neil's journey to recovery permeates through the album's music, a process of catharsis, renewal and healing embedded in its fabric. As dance music has always done, the compositions on the LP transmute difficult emotions into music that uplifts, invigorates and encourages the listener to move their body.
Neil's creative energy was amplified by his work around healing childhood trauma, centred around a one-off case of abuse that put a strain on his relationship with his family and led to sustained bouts of depression throughout his life. Delving into this painful period, while also studying to become a psychotherapist helped to unravel the trauma and set him on a path to healing past wounds. Out of this deep work came realisations around love, acceptance and connection that have shaped Neil's outlook, and influenced the album's direction. His ability to channel experiences from the past, and present, into music that moves the mind, body and soul evident through the LP. The core tenets of peace, love, unity and respect permeate through This Is What We Do, an opus of dance floor jubilation and release.
By opening up about his experience with other students on his psychotherapy course, Neil freed up space in his mind, which allowed him to be more creative. This inspired an incredibly fertile time in the studio, and Neil went into overdrive when he received his cancer diagnosis, finishing a batch of demos and handing them to the record company the day before his colon operation. Perhaps unsurprisingly, he admits, “I just decided that, ‘If I dont get this done now, I will probably either die, or it will never be done'.” Like Leftfield's previous work, This Is What We Do pulls no punches. It's a buoyant contrast to the image-conscious music that has come to dominate modern dance music.
Across all 11 tracks there is joyous, tangible expression, unmistakable in its uncompromising stance, at the same time exhilarating with its energetic impact. Its intensity mirrors the magnitude of what was occurring in Neil's life while the album was being recorded, allowing for the bright side to emerge. This Is What We Do is an album full of heart and soul, an honest and authentic collection of electronic music that circumvents genre categorisation to evoke sincere feelings in the listener. Sonically, the music brings together breaks, punchy beats, vintage elements, and an expansive, unrestricted approach representative of Leftfield's refusal to follow trends - evident in their work since the very beginning. With Adam Wren's key input, Neil explains the excitement and fun that was had in the music making process, “Our relationship is a real give and take, it's about experimenting and pushing things as far as we can go while also jumping up and down about it”. The duo would imagine themselves on the dance floor, capturing that elation and euphoria in the most authentic way possible.
This is electronic music as a vehicle for the transmission of emotion, advocating for personal and global progression, rooted in diversity, and bound by the energy of radicalism. Yet still, it's danceable and vibrant; tracks like ‘Heart & Soul' with its Algerian influences, for instance. “This is part of what Leftfield were always interested in, showing respect to other cultures,” Neil says. “We did that on the very first record we ever did, ‘Not Forgotten'. It has all the same themes.” ‘Pulse' is designed to encourage you to close your eyes on the dance floor and evaporate into the ether - Neil refers to it as “abandoning yourself to the dance floor, a modern spiritual way of losing yourself with a serious message beneath it”. The title a reference to Maya Angelou's stirring poem ‘On The Pulse of Morning'.
‘Full Way Round' features Fontaines DC frontman Grian Chatten, whose vocals merge with Leftfield's raucous instrumental perfectly. With all three artists working together in the studio, Neil describes the magic that occurred as their collective energies bounced off one another, resulting in powerful composition. Grian's spoken-word poem closes ‘Full Way Round' with a poignant twist. Or ‘Making A Difference', which utilises a poem by Lemn Sissay. It's easy on the ear and full of vigour. Influences from the roots of modern-day electronic music permeate through cuts like ‘City of Synths' and ‘Machines Like Me', which feels like a subtle homage to the godfathers of dance music, Kraftwerk. For the club heads, ‘Accumulator' goes for the jugular, overflowing with raw dance floor energy that accumulates as the track progresses. This is a cut that Neil describes as, “The most fierce and aggressive” and “The one that is most akin to an older Leftfield more than the other tracks”. Closing track ‘The Power of Listening', links directly to one of the album's core themes - the simple act of conscious listening; to one's self and to others, and the transformative power of such action.
This Is What We Do provides the perfect channel for Neil Barnes to utilise electronic music to work through a highly challenging period of his life, facing his own trauma, and going through a process of self-examination. The positive energy and dance-inducing music across the LP demonstrates the power of dance music can heal and transform; individually and societally. Honest, forthright, unapologetic and unique in its aesthetic, the new album marks another milestone in Leftfield's timeline. A continuation of their lineage, which can be traced back to 1989, This Is What We Do is a bold counterpoint to the self-conscious cookie-cutter dance music that dominates the current landscape. Vibrant, full of positivity and alive with sincere emotion, this is electronic music in its purest, most rebellious form…