LFO was a British electronic music act formed in 1988 consisting of Mark Bell and Gez Varley. They released their acclaimed debut LP Frequencies in 1991 on Sheffield label Warp. After Varley left the group in 1996, Bell continued solo to release Advance (1996) and Sheath (2003).[1] Bell died in October 2014, effectively ending the project.[1]

Mark Bell (LFO) on stage in Arma 17, Moscow, on 30 March 2013
Mark Bell (LFO) on stage in Arma 17, Moscow, on 30 March 2013
Background information
OriginLeeds, England
Years active
  • 1988–1996
  • 2003–2014
Past members
WebsiteLFO at Warp

LFO are considered to be pioneers of the bass-heavy "bleep techno" style.[1] AllMusic called them "one of British techno's most important, agenda-setting groups."[2]

History edit

Early years edit

Varley and Bell met while studying at Leeds and named their group after the initialism for the common synthesizer function low-frequency oscillation. They gave their first track, the eponymous "LFO", to Nightmares on Wax. The popularity of the demo in clubs led to the track being released by the Sheffield-based Warp label in 1990, and it was a Top 20 hit in the U.K., reaching number 12 in the singles charts in July.[2]

DJ Martin (Martin Williams) is credited as a cowriter and co-producer of the track "LFO" but was not a member of the group. Mark Bell explains:

We gave a tape of our recordings to DJ Martin who helped loads with arranging our tracks so it'd work on the dancefloor. We'd just been messing around with drum machines since we were like thirteen, tapping away at them like they were arcade games, making tapes to play our mates at school. Anyway, DJ Martin would play our cassettes in his sets and people would go mental - in a good way - cos they were totally raw.[3]

The duo of Bell and Varley were both 19 years old when they recorded their debut album Frequencies (1991).[4][5] According to Bell, most of the album was made by him alone because Varley felt "trapped by the confines of Warp" and wanted to make more direct dance music; the credits were nonetheless split 50/50.[5]

The duo later signed to Tommy Boy Records in the U.S. and remixed Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock", as well as songs from Björk, Radiohead, Depeche Mode, Laurent Garnier, and The Sabres of Paradise.

Later years edit

In 1996, LFO released their second album, Advance.[6] Varley left the group the same year and formed Feedback with Simon Hartley (a.k.a. Wild Planet). Bell produced Homogenic (1997) with Björk and performed with her on her 1997 Homogenic and 2007/08 Volta tours. He also produced Exciter (2001) with Depeche Mode.

In 2003, LFO released their third album, Sheath, produced alone by Bell.[7]

In 2005, LFO and Aphex Twin collaborated with the EP AFX / LFO.

In 2009 the Warp20 (Recreated) compilation featured covers of two early LFO songs, "LFO" by Luke Vibert and "What is House? (LFO Remix)" by Autechre. The original version of "LFO", albeit the Leeds Warehouse Mix, featured on Warp's 10th anniversary album Warp 10+2: Classics 89–92.

LFO's track Freak was used in the opening title sequence for Gaspar Noé's 2009 film Enter the Void.

In 2014, Bell passed away from health complications at the age of 43, resulting in the disbandment of the band.

Discography edit

Albums edit

EPs edit

  • What Is House? EP (1992) – No. 62 UK

Singles edit

  • "LFO" (1990) – No. 12 UK
  • "Love is a Message" (1990)[10]
  • "Loop" (1990)[10][11]
  • "Frequencies" (1991)[10]
  • "We Are Back" (1991) – No. 47 UK[10]
  • "Tied Up" (1994) – No. 99 UK
  • "Freak" (2003) – No. 79 UK[8][11]

References edit

  1. ^ a b c "Warp Records confirm the death of LFO's Mark Bell". NME. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b LFO at AllMusic
  3. ^ "Unpublished interview with LFO". Archived from the original on 3 December 2007.
  4. ^ "Mark Bell of LFO, RIP". BrooklynVegan. 13 October 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  5. ^ a b "Interview (2002): LFO Low Frequency Opportunist". The Milk Factory. Retrieved 23 May 2021.
  6. ^ "Leeds' Musical Heritage: 1990s". BBC. 21 October 2008. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  7. ^ "LFO's Mark Bell: 10 essential tracks". The Guardian. 14 October 2014. Retrieved 6 August 2017.
  8. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 309. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  9. ^ Reynolds, Simon. "LFO, Sheath: 5 stars". The Observer. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  10. ^ a b c d "Mark Bell | Credits". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 September 2023.
  11. ^ a b "LFO Songs, Albums, Reviews, Bio & More". AllMusic. Retrieved 23 September 2023.

External links edit