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Rhythm and Stealth
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Performer Notes
  • Leftfield: Neil Barnes, Paul Daley (various instruments, programming).
  • Additional personnel: Roots Manuva, Cheshire Cat, Afrika Bambaataa, Nicole Willis, Rino Della Volpe (vocals).
  • Recorded at Rollover Studios, London, England.
  • For all the acclaim heaped upon its widely acclaimed debut album, LEFTISM, Leftfield's sequel is even more interesting. Whereas that first album bounced around, exploring styles and genres (and doing an extremely good job of it, mind you), RHYTHM AND STEALTH is an exceptionally focused record--though it incorporates ambient, techno, and electronica styles, among others, each track seems to part of something larger. This is a massive, dark, and very hard-edged dance record that takes no prisoners.
  • The album opener, "Dusted," is built around a rolling beat that pulses with power, suggesting a coiled snake about to strike. Both "Phat Planet" and the punishing "6/8 War" have a similar feel, but speed up the pace dramatically--if techno music filled the Top-40 playlists, these are the kinds of tracks that would be played during horror movie chase scenes. "Chant of a Poor Man," "El Cid," and "Rino's Prayer" all play up the ambient textures, but retain the threatening mood of the more beat-oriented tracks. One standout among many is "Afrika Shox," featuring the legendary Afrika Bombaataa on vocals, which looses massive beats, a dense collection of samples, and some super-fast scratching to create a truly stunning dance track.
Professional Reviews
Rolling Stone (10/28/99, pp.103-4) - 3.5 stars out of 5 - "...Leftfield welcome you to the darkside....RHYTHM AND STEALTH pingpongs from funk to hip-hop to techno to ambient whirs and fizz....it makes for a mind-melding headphone adventure."

Q (9/99, pp.98-9) - 3 stars (out of 5) - "...it sounds incredible....mid-paced dub workouts, dancefloor assaults and ambient interludes appear in roughly the same ratio this time round....On the functional tracks - whether chillout lullabies or dance stompers - Leftfield...prove [they] can still make a party go with a swing, or persuade everyone to calm down before something gets broken..."

Alternative Press (11/99, p.108) - 4 out of 5 - "...they haven't lost any of [their] genius....Leftfield create no two songs alike..."

Muzik (1/00, p.69) - Ranked #9 in Muzik's "Albums Of The Year '99"

Muzik (10/99, p.96) - 5 stars out of 5 - "...RHYTHM & STEALTH is awesome....[Its] devotion to pushing the sonic boom barrier becomes increasingly rewarding..."

CMJ (1/10/00, p.20) - Included in CMJ's "RPM '99 Top 5" - "...Dub, breakbeat, electro, techno and trip-hop are the chapters of [the album's] complete comprehensive story..."

Mojo (Publisher) (1/00, p.30) - Ranked #34 in Mojo Magazine's "Best of 1999"

Mojo (Publisher) (10/99, p.99) - "...A good album rather than a life-changer, then, but when the drums kick in on Guinness ad soundtrack 'Phat Planet', you'd forgive Leftfield anything."
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