“We’d never even thought about releasing stuff,” Mark Bell told Last Night a DJ Saved My Life co-author Bill Brewster in his official Warp biography, describing how LFO, the U.K. producer’s pioneering electronic duo with Gez Varley, signed to the label almost 25 years ago. “It was more than enough hearing the music on a big system.” Within weeks, the Leeds-based outfit had gone from virtual unknowns to selling more than 130,000 copies of their debut single, 1990′s “LFO,” which reached No. 12 in Britain.
Bell, who released two more albums with Varley and went on to produce for Björk while continuing to record as LFO, passed away earlier this month. “It’s with great sadness that we announce the untimely passing of Mark Bell of LFO who died last week from complications after an operation,” Warp posted on its website. “Mark’s family and friends request privacy at this difficult time.”
LFO were among the earliest acts signed to electronic music mainstay Warp, followed by the likes of Autechre and Aphex Twin‘s Richard D. James. “LFO,” with a video directed by Pulp‘s Jarvis Cocker, was the label’s first top 20 hit. Bell and Varley’s two albums together as LFO were 1991′s Frequencies and 1996′s Advance. The two split up, and Bell released music other under aliases, including Speed Jack and Counterpoint, before following up as LFO with 2003′s Sheath.
By that time, the techno innovator was already a leading producer, most notably for Björk. Bell produced the bulk of 1997′s landmark Homogenic and collaborated with the Icelandic artist on all of her subsequent albums through 2011′s Biophilia. His other production credits include Deltron 3030‘s 2000 self-titled album and Depeche Mode‘s 2001 effort Exciter. LFO also did remixes for such acts as Radiohead and Afrika Bambaataa.
After Warp confirmed news of Bell’s passing, Björk shared LFO’s “Love is the Message” via social media. “I’d been watching [Mark] since 1990, when he was doing LFO, because I like the pioneers who have stayed faithful to techno,” she told Mark Pytlik in his 2003 book Björk: Wow and Flutter. “If I were to say who influenced me the most, I would say people like Stockhausen, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno and Mark Bell, because the work Mark did when he was 19 proved to our generation that pop music is what we understand. We walk around with all these telephones and car alarms, and we hear all these noises. We can keep saying, ‘No, it’s soulless, it’s cold,’ but it’s part of our lives.”
Check out a few of LFO’s tracks below.