Mark Bell (British musician)
Mark Bell on stage in Arma 17, Moscow, on 30 March 2013.
|Born||22 February 1971|
|Died||8 October 2014 (aged 43)|
Wakefield, Yorkshire, England
Mark Bell (1971-2014) was a British DJ and record producer of house music who, as well as being a member of the pioneering electronic music group LFO on Warp Records, collaborated with a wide range of artists such as Björk and Depeche Mode, for whom he took on the production duties for the entire Exciter album.
Mark Bell's early musical influences came from three specific sources. One was an art teacher in school who taught art and played music by Jean-Michel Jarre and Kraftwerk, an older sister who played disco, funk music and electro from her bedroom, and a music shop in Leeds Mark described as having "arcade games like Tempest and Defender" and that it would play "loads of early hip hop like Schoolly D. I remember feeling this is mine and my friend’s place". Bell first experiments in electronic music involved him making a deal with his girlfriend's father who made his musical ballads listened to despite disliking them. Bell convinced him he required a real backing band and purchased his drum machine from him.
Bell went to college to study photography and graphic design, where he met the West Yorkshire DJ Martin Williams and Gez Varley. With money from Varley's grandmother, Bell had access to a bedroom full of equipment. In 1988, Varley, Bell and Martin began to play gigs as LFO, named after the low frequency oscillator, a function of many synthesizers.
LFO were performing at the Warehouse, a club in Leeds, when Steve Beckett and Rob Mitchell arrived and noticed the positive reception club goers had to the track "LFO". Beckett and Mitchell were the original creators of the Warp record label, but had not officially created the label yet. Despite this, Beckett and Mitchell offered to put out a 12-inch single, which was expected to sell about 2,000 copies but eventually became a Top 20 hit. The label released their first studio album Frequencies in 1991. Following the album's release, Bell continued to release singles for other independent labels such as Carl Craig's Planet E.
While working on a follow-up album, Bell began his partnership with Björk before the release of her album Post. Bell gave her a cassette of LFO demo material allowing her to use what she wanted for a future release. Björk chose a track that would later become her song "I Go Humble", which would show up again in instrumental form as "Shove Piggy Shove" on the LFO album Advance in 1996. When asked about the long gap between records, Bell stated “It’s not intentional...It's easy doing your first album as you have all the first part of your life to express. The second one is harder unless you're going to repeat yourself... and repetition bores me a bit, it's a complete wasted opportunity to be creative." After the release of Advance, Bell and Varley parted ways, with Bell retaining rights to the name LFO. Bell continued to perform under the LFO moniker.
Production work and final LFO album
Björk had initially wanted Bell to contribute to her albums Debut and Post and started a real collaboration with her on the album Homogenic. Bell was credited for the majority of the album's production, including the songs "Pluto", "Alarm Call", and the bassline in "Jóga". Björk stated that she "trusts and respects what [Bell] does for me. If I were to say who has influenced me most it would be Stockhausen, Kraftwerk, Brian Eno and Mark Bell".
Bell would also produce Björk's Selmasongs, the soundtrack to the Lars von Trier's film Dancer in the Dark. Outside Björk, Bell produced Depeche Mode's Exciter. Bell commented on working the group was fun but strange, stating he had listened to the group when he was 12 and found the band asking him for days off or "what they should eat".
Later works and death
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as Speed Jack
- 1994 "Storm"
- 1994 "C.T.C."
- 1996 "Blue Bossa"
- 1995 "Lofthouse"
- 1995 Klip EP
- 1996 "Jigsaw"
- 1997 Björk - Homogenic
- 2000 Björk - Selmasongs
- 2001 Depeche Mode - Exciter
- 2004 Björk - Medúlla
- 2005 Björk - Drawing Restraint 9
- 2007 Björk - Volta
- 2011 Björk - Biophilia
- 2012 Douglas J. McCarthy - Kill Your Friends
- Hawkins, Stan; Scott, Derek B. (2012). Critical Musicological Reflections: Essays in Honour of Derek B. Scott. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. pp. 99–. ISBN 9781409425618. Retrieved 5 September 2014.
- Brewster, Bill (16 December 2008). "LFO". Warp. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
- Kreps, Daneil (13 October 2014). "Bjork, Depeche Mode Producer Mark Bell Dead". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
- Pytlik 2003, p. 181.
- "Mark Bell / LFO Interview". The Milk Factory. June 2002. Archived from the original on 15 October 2009. Retrieved 5 July 2009.
- Pytlik 2003, p. 124.
- "Mark Bell of LFO has passed away". Mixmag. Archived from the original on 22 December 2014. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
- Jackson, Glen. "RIP Mark Bell". XLR8R. Retrieved 13 October 2014.
- "Mark Bell : Obituary". Yorkshire Weekly Newspaper Group. 24 October 2014. Archived from the original on 1 March 2017. Retrieved 7 February 2018.