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The Song ‘LFO’ Is Awesome and You Should Listen to It Right Now

LFO, song, title track, awesome, mark bell

As great an album as LFO’s 1991 standard house text Frequencies is, even its staunchest supporters would have to admit that the record shows its years a little bit. Some of the slower songs feel a little directionless, the intro track starts off kinda goofy, and the production in general is pretty bare-bones by modern-day standards. For those around for its release, Frequencies will likely forever endure as a masterpiece; for younger listeners, it might be more of an up-and-down listen.

One of the “up”s, however, would undoubtedly be the group’s title track (above), a top 20 U.K. hit in the summer of ’91. The song is a relatively simple but absolutely captivating construction — one squelching, fluttering siren hook in conversation with a lush (though spiky) synth wave, a stabilizing bass thud, and a frenetic drum machine loop, all keyed around a disembodied voice offering the three-letter intonation: “L. F. O.”  It’s funky, it’s jagged, it’s confusing, it’s pretty, and it still sounds absolutely massive 23 years later. 

The most brilliant thing about the song “LFO” — and maybe the most influential, given how paramount tension-and-release is in contemporary EDM — is how it clears out for its exceedingly minimalist hook. Removing everything but the bass line for the group’s name to be so matter-of-factly stated, it implies a career’s worth of authority and mystique with just those three letters. And then when the song — beat, dueling hooks and all — comes crashing in immediately after, the message is pretty clear: This is who we are. This is what we do. Get with the program or get the fuck of the dance floor.

The career of the late Mark Bell — whose death was announced today, following complications resulting from an operation — was filled with moments like this, but none of them sound quite as definitive or undeniable as the group’s self-titled debut single. It’s a classic of its genre, and ensures in more ways than one that Bell’s name — or at the very least, the name of the outfit with which he was most closely associated — will never be forgotten.