on 8 September 2000
I must say that this album is a real grower. I remember being so wound up over it, but then being slightly disappointed after hearing it, expecting it to be anything like Leftism. But it ain't. It is a fantastic diversification from the ghost of Leftism and proves Leftfield's versatility in an ever expanding world of pop. From the pulsing madness of Phat Planet, the divine rap that is Dusted (sounds great in a car with mucho bass) and the dulcet tones of Nicole Wilis on Swords and back up again with Afrika Shox, Double Flash and 6/8 War, ther is a track for everyone here. It's definitely one of the finest albums i have ever heard, but beware Chant Of A Poor Man. It totally hammers car speakers and rattles your interior off of it's mounts. It's a killer. Drum n'Bass next please, Leftfield.
When I bought this album, my previous experience of Leftfield was limited to their two most famous tracks: the John Lydon lead Open Up and the legendary Guiness advert. However, their reputation as innovators and intelligent musicians was confirmed as soon as I put the CD on.
Ten tracks; not a long album, but still a more varied one than most dance CDs, and there's not a hint of filler. Leftfield mix pounding techno, edgy rapping and soulfull chill-out togethor passionately. Because the tempo of the album varies there are natural stand-out tracks. At times the album sounds like The Future Sound of London, at others it is more familiar to fans of The Prodigy.
The bassline of Phat Planet must stand-out as one of the most instantly recognisable musical pieces of the last ten years. Even today, people will recognise it instantly, despite the fact it's only claim to fame was a 30 second beer advert over five years ago. As break-beat driven techno goes, I struggle to think of another track that matches it.
The album's big single, Afrika Shox, guest-starring the legendary Afrika Bambaataa is space-age big-beat with some incredible vocals. The live rapping blends with an incredible vocoded voice. Dub Gusset, 6/8 War and Double Flash are all pounding dub techno that are best appreciated through a good pair of sub-woofers.
Away from this hard edged dance-floor filling music, there is another side to Leftfield that is, in its own way, just as powerful. The spaced-out singing of Swords, the warm strings of El Cid and the blissfull Rino's Prayer may not have cement-cracking basslines or awe-inspiring break-beats, but their musical strength is just as strong.
Overall, for fans of artists like FSOL, Prodigy and Underworld, Rhythmn & Stealth is an absolutely essential purchase.
It saddens me when I remember the original reviews this got way back in winter 1999 at the time of it's release; unfair is putting it mildly..
As a producer of electronic music myself, I'm totally aware of how DIFFICULT it can be to "make your own mark" in such a broad genre. Instead of lauding them at the time for havign the guts to go totally "leftfield" (a very bad pun, but true their name I suppose, so it had to be used), and produce something that still stands up - for me at least - 5 years down the line.
Only "double flash" is the weak link here, but in the context of the WHOLE ALBUM, it fits. The reason this album works is the sheer variety in tonal color, and the production values still shine (don't forget this was STILL BEFORE the days of laptop studios!), as well as an atmosphere of "danger", coupled with a slightly foreboding, sinister edge. That's probably the reason those who loved LEFTISM , with its happy, party/chill out mix of vibes ,were probably a bit nonplussed with the nervy, jittery sound of this album.
Leftfield went their seperate ways in summer 2002, and as yet (apart from a "god save the queen" remix by neil barnes), both have been quiet in terms of releases. Either way, although they onyl made two albums in ten or so years together, those albums are an incredible benchmark, which DEFINITELY bear a sound unique to them.
on 30 October 2004
Strange, very strange. I got this on the day of its release, fired up by Phat Planet and of course Leftism, listened to it avidly for about a month - just couldn't get enough of the dark, juicy loudness of it - but then for some reason it just slipped off my radar. I sympathise with reviewers who say there was nothing to engage with, I found that too I think.
Then, completely out of the blue, the other day I suddenly had '6/8 War' going round and round my head, and it stayed there until I finally got the record out and listened to it again. What a brilliant piece of work this is. I can't believe I haven't bothered with it for so long. The dark, dubby minimalism starts looking wildly before its time - this sounds like prototype Grime almost - and the record as a whole is dense and many-layered.
If you were disappointed when you bought it, try it again.
on 17 November 2002
Rythym & Stealth is no Leftism - and its not meant to be. Form the opener 'Dusted' featuring Roots Manuva through the familialy pounding repetitive bass of 'Phat Planet', you can tell the album is a lot less up lifting, more moody than anything else. 'Chant of a Poor Man'; destroys your speakers, while double flash chugs along repetitively before the amazing 'El Cid' fades in, the ambient, bassy, didigerdooey masterpiece which melds into the start of 'Afike Shox', one of the standouts from the album. Featuring Afrika Bambaataa the dark atmospherics and funky beat never fails to please. The repetitive and bassy 'Dub Gussett' follows, which, with some crazy effects, drops into 'Swords', another standout track with weird atmospherics and vocals from Nicole Harris. '6/8 War' pounds along until 'Rino's Prayer' comes in to sum up the CD, the far-out vocals and trippy ambience mixes with the bass and the beat to make a great chill-out experience.
Slightly scary music from the duo, still worth buying though
on 8 February 2009
The problem of this album is its predecessor: the Leftism album, one of the greatest albums of all time (if you don't happen to know this already).
However, once I got over the fact that this is not Leftism Pt II and I realised that this is a very different beast altogether, and a worthy successor. It is best listened to with the volume knob cranked up, ideally on a seriously good HiFi and with some tolerant neighbours. This album does not go for the drilling, jubilant ecstasy of Leftism, this one creates vast musical spaces with an architectural feel reminiscent of Pink Floyd or Massive Attack. It has been put together very carefully, creating some very dark spaces, and reveals itself as a true grower that is getting better with each successive listen.
Thinking about it, it is not 'perhaps' great - it is truly great.
on 11 February 2004
Its sad to now think that this was the last album to be released by the genius duo of neil barnes and paul daley that comprises of leftfield!They previously released one of the definitive albums of the 90s with 'leftism' and followed up with a totally different but still effective album in 'rhythm and stealth'!
I can only presume that the bad reviews of this album are due to people expecting a leftism-style sequel. However, this album contains many tracks that make this well worthy of five stars in my opinion. Roots Manuva brilliantly opens the album with 'dusted' which is followed by arguably the albums greatest moment 'phat planet'. Used to help promote Guiness it is probably their best known track, however they have so much more to offer as this album illustrates.
'Chant of a poor man' continues in the similar style of the two songs previous but for me the album reaches its peak with the fantastic single 'Afrika Shox', made all the more brilliant with the great vocals provided by Afrika Bambaataa. Those looking for leftism-style material will probably appreciate the inclusion of 'swords', a chilled out track not too dissimilar to 'original' on leftism.
No Leftism 2 but worth the wait none the less!Shame about the split that followed the release of 'swords' as the last single but the standard has definately been set!
on 1 July 2005
Since splitting up(impeccably planned?)Leftfield have become music industry ledgends... They helped shape all that we know and love and continue to influence a massive audience.
Rythmn and Stealth is the perfect continuation of their style. Don't expect the grounbreaking progressive house line of Leftism, this is more mature, dignified and impartial. It is a distillation of the music industry of the time it was engineered. Every track here is produced to a standard that other outfits drool with jealousy over.
Swords is a vocal triumph melting some fantastic layers and rythmn sections and if you liked the ambient bliss of 'Melt' on 'Leftism' then you're going love the sleepy 'El Cid'.
This album is not about treading the exalted path of the last album, its about treading new paths and that is what Leftfield do best.
Buy this and you are receiving a definitve piece of the Leftfield psyche along with the formiddable work of electronic music's greatest duo. Unmissable.
on 13 January 2003
This doesn’t really have the subtlety of the original, favouring full on clanking techno over intricately textured soundscapes. That’s not all bad but you should know what you’re letting yourself in for. That said both Afrika Shox and Swords are absolutely gorgeous tracks but its Phat Planet that is most representative of Leftfield’s new direction. Its also the best example of it, there are quite a lot of tracks here that just chug away fairly repetitively.
There’s enough going on here to stop it becoming truly boring but most of it only makes sense played at stupidly high volumes.
Surprisingly though this album sounded great played live as it reminded me exactly of how primal, non cerebral and instinctive great Dance music can be. Perhaps not really suited to your living room though.
on 24 January 2000
From style to style like the dance pioneers they are...Leftfield have not disappointed with this stunning album. Dusted, Africa Shox, Phat Planet are all superb and listening depth is much enhanced by Chant of a Poor man and Reno's Prayer. In fact, the only "hmmm" points are when the lads go all out in Swords and 6/8 war, and you can still see asses shaking to that on a night out