Released : 1990
Electronic music historians rarely travel to Morley, a Victorian market town perched on seven hills a few miles to the south-west of Leeds. And yet down South Queen Street at the Afterdark you used to find a club night called The Orbit which, between 1990 and 2003, hosted some of the world’s most famous DJ’s. Despite lacking the glamour of Berlin or New York, at it’s mid-90’s peak in any given month the famously loud and unventilated former cinema could boast all star line ups featuring the likes of Jeff Mills, Dave Clarke, Joey Beltram and Justin Robertson.
Gez Varley and Mark Bell first met through Leeds’ breakdancing scene, one where rivalry was kept to a minimum away from the concrete canyons of it’s home in the city’s brutalist Merrion Centre. As well as LFO it was a loose community which also spawned local acts Nightmares on Wax, Ital Rockers and the Unique 3, a White Rose techno vanguard that would help turn Sheffield’s fledgling Warp label into an unlikely hit factory.
Varley and Bell would count places like The Orbit and The Warehouse – where the band’s other original member Martin Williams was resident DJ – as bastions of a movement which had grown up outside of the higher profile London/Manchester axis. Northern crowds outside that bubble were known as less image conscious, and more into the music; not being there just to be seen meant sweat, noise and hedonism were the night’s most potent ingredients.
Everything from that era hasn’t aged gracefully, but LFO continues to push buttons, it’s opening notes and stomach rattling sub-bass throb still capable of making adrenaline flow in waves. Even now it’s hardness and constant shifts in focus make it repeatably listenable, a reminder of a blinder whether you’ve ever had one to it or not. It doesn’t bleep much in Morley these days. But when it did you could get some of the players just by dialing 0532.