Album Review by Mark Bayross
After a six year hiatus, Future Sound Of London re-emerged earlier this year under their alter ego Amorphous Androgynous with THE ISNESS, a record of breathtaking scope and creativity that managed to sound simultaneously atypically retro and familiarly futuristic.
Amid its prog-influenced, acid-addled grooves of downtempo beats, sitars and folk guitars sat THE MELLO HIPPO DISCO SHOW, with its psychedelic Beatles harmonies and Garry Cobain’s tongue-in-cheek, tripped-out vocals, probably the most un-FSOL sounding track on the album. Not a “dead city” in sight…
Now the song is getting the EP treatment, a move which is bound to further distance Cobain and Brian Dougans from the less open-minded of their ambient / techno fanbase. Although most of the eight tracks here are reconstructions of MELLO HIPPO, there is enough variety of sound (of course…this is FSOL!) and shifting of mood for this to be more of a mini-album. While the central coda runs throughout the record, the JACKNIFE LEE MIX adds some epic strings and distorted industrial beats and TRYING TO MAKE IMPERMANENT THINGS PERMANENT strips the sound down to a minimalist collage of scattering rhythms and spacey guitar twangs.
It is clear that if you found the change of direction taken on THE ISNESS hard to accept, then this is not for you – it’s an extension of the album and based around a massive stylistic shift away from FSOL’s traditional environment. However, as with the album, there is enough of the old sound left in for it still to be recognisably Future Sound Of London, and most people should be able to accept that imaginative musicians will want to expand their sound, whether the audience has to play catch-up or not.