Album Reviews

Future Sound Of London – The Isness

(Hypnotic) UK release date: 12 August 2002


Future Sound Of London - The Isness If you are, or ever have been, a fan of ‘electronica’, then it’s pretty likely that you own a record by Future Sound Of London. Their 1992 album, Accelerator, bridged the gap between breakbeat hardcore and techno, and spawned the timeless classic, Papua New Guinea – remixed andre-released countless times.

The totally ambient Lifeforms followed, taking in otherworldly textures and digitally processed classical music. Their last release, the post-apocalyptic, pre-millennial Dead Cities, was less successful despite yielding a Top 40 hit with the harsh electro of We Have Explosive.

With The Isness, Future Sound Of London (recording under their Amorphous Androgynous alias) have taken yet another unpredictable turn, this time looking back to ’60s psychedelia, incorporating such influences as The Beatles, David Bowie and ELO. But it seems as though this isn’t going to find them many fans in today’s dance climate, which, at present, doesn’t go back further than 1980.

The album is very organic, Gary Cobain (one half of FSOL)acquiring a newfound love of the acoustic guitar and writing “meaninglessly significant gobbledegook lyrics”. The record could be perceived as a’chill-out’ album but it doesn’t really work that way. Nowadays ‘ambient’ means Röyksopp, Zero 7 and Ibizan “blissed out moods”, not wailing women, sitars and nose flutes.

First track The Lovers is pure old-school Future Sound Of London. Featuring a familiar breakbeat, it sounds like a more relaxed moment from Dead Cities. The art of songwriting is explored on Mellow Hippo Disco Show and Divinity, the former alluding to Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds with its processed vocals. Elysian Feels is the most psychedelic song here, featuring an organ solo straight out of Light My Fire and spacious, reverberated guitar.

However, it’s not all acoustic psychedelia andIndian ragas, there are some moments of innovative electronic music here too, the sampled and reconstructed music box on Go Tell It To The Trees Egghead, which sounds more like Aphex Twin than The Doors and the DJ Shadow on heroin of Meadows being prime examples.

The emotional, filmatic strings of Her Tongue Is Like A Jellyfish are a real treat, but just like the digitally processed version of Pachabell’s Cannon on Lifeforms, at only 30 seconds it’s over way too soon and only hints at their strong composing skills. It makes the five minute long High Tide On A Sea Of Flesh seem like an unforgivable waste of time and effort.

There are some extremely interesting aspects to this album, and if you can grasp the fact that it’s supposed to be an organic album with world music influences, then it’s quite passable. But to me it sounds more than too often too much like the Tee-Pee field at Glastonbury.


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