Leftfield – Leftism 22 (2017 EU)
Very impressive dynamics & depths overall
Ultra punchy, taut & weighty bass on the good tracks
Inconsistent sound quality
Grainy and saturated bass on four tracks
Hard cover paper inner sleeves
Leftism is the first studio album by electronica musicians Paul Daley and Neil Barnes under the name Leftfield. The album was released in 1995 on Columbia Records.
After 22 years, Leftism was reissued as Leftism 22 ON Columbia and Hard Hands. The CD version comes with 22 tracks in total with the 11 original tracks on disc one and 11 remixes on disc two. This 3xLP contains only the remastered 11 original tracks.
For those who are younger might not know that dance track used to be a one off 12″ single or EP. LP format was a relatively new thing and only a few albums were successful in LP format. Leftism was one of the most successful amongst Underworld’s Dubnobasswithmyheadman, Orbital’s Brown Album, The Prodigy’s Music For The Jilted Generation and a few others.
It is exciting to hear the reissue of this seminal album from the 90’s. Matt Colton at Alchemy Mastering is a fitting choice for the remastering task for his signature deep cuts with chunky deep bass with contrasting airy highs, clear, transparent, wide open and immersive soundstage. He has also done the mastering for Leftfield’s latest album Alternative Light Source from 2015. Although the resulting sound quality was not the best from him, perhaps not entirely up to him.
Matt Colton has done a stellar good job for Leftism 22 but the sound quality of the entire album is inconsistent. I can hear some problems in the bass resolutions. If you love Leftism, I presume you are like me, someone who loves its super fun, heavenly thumping bass and pounding techno beat, right?
Who can forget the two-minute long eerie and spacious opening synth of the intro of Release The Pressure? Probably nothing has been done like that before. However, it has slightly grainy, saturated and rolled off sub bass. Afro-Left has very much saturated and rolled off bass, the African drums sounded boomy and unnatural.
Cut For Life’s intro has similar dubby hip-hop beats and chillonic intro to Massive Attacks’ Mezzanine. It sounds more convincing than Release The Pressure and Afro-Left. Its pounding bass lines pummels with utmost authority, it is punchy, taut and weighty.
Melt did just as well. The haunting saxophone and synth have beautifully extended reverbs and low ends.
It was quite a disappointment to hear the two seminal tracks done badly. I was put off. Although the SQ of Cut For Life and Melt are much better, I was not impressed. So I decided to play my other new records instead.
Continue with Side C. The quality of Black Flute’s pounding bass is reverted back to sound bloated and saturated like Afro-Left. Another disappointment.
Original proceeds with the best sounding programming drums and percussions, it is one of the few songs here perfectly mastered with thrilling dynamics, astonishing depths and astounding 3D imaging. This is the sound quality I have been waiting to hear!
The dynamics range, depths and bass of Inspection (Check One) and Space Shanty are even more impressive than Original. It is perfectly executed and 100% euphoric. They thrum and thump with menacing authority and superb controls. Yee-ha!
Storm 3000 commands attention like it did with Side D. The SQ of this drum and bass number lives up to those two tracks on Side D and it is utterly satisfying.
Half Past Dub has a neat trick where it’s frog like croaking effect goes behind the listener’s position. This is rather amazing.
The thumping bass at the beginning of Open Up is unfortunately grainy and bloated again like that of Afro-Left but not as severely saturated. Thankfully it was rectified on the second part after the long siren.
21st Century Poem is a calm down track without thumping bass, probably nothing can go terribly wrong with this.
This Leftism 22 3xLP set would have been a brilliant reissue with stunning SQ, only if the entire album has a consistent SQ throughout, as good or close to those on the two of the best sides, Side D and Side E. Tracks like Release The Pressure, Open Up, especially Afro-Left and Black Flute really need a fix. Perhaps for whatever reasons, it is impossible… Maybe this is as good as it gets?
This 3xLP set is perfectly pressed by Optimal Media with very little surface noise.