Future Sound of London:Lifeforms

Future Sound of London:Lifeforms
(Astralwerks/Virgin - 1994)

FSOL are one of the bigger names in modern electronica; this work makes it obvious why. The myriad of sounds and musical effects could have yielded a true cacaphony, but everything is reined in with total musical mastery. This is the single CD containing Paths 1 - 7. (I understand there's a double CD of the same name.)

Strange warbling noises, birdsounds, splashings, drips, and echoey thumps comprise the unusual opening of Path 1, which soon evolves into something more musical as a shimmering synth and a clanking/splashing rhythm section join in. Co-writer Elizabeth Fraser's Oriental-ish vocal chant is entwined along with various other sound sources, borrowed and created

Path 2 features many echoing, plinking strings, various vocal snatches, violins, and assorted percussive bursts. What sounds like a single throbbing bass string sets the pace for some time, overlain by recurrences of the many other sounds. A speedy, yet muffled, drumbeat picks things up, with another vocal chant and assorted electronics. The songs winds down with some plunky electric stringed instrument and the strangely euphoric hootings of some unknown little creatures.

An active rhythm clearly denotes where Path 3 begins. The dancy beat mingles with sweeping synths, male and female vocal chants, and a host of other noises. Eventually the beat subsides, and things quieten down as we segue into...

...the longest track (at 9 minutes), Path 4 and its initially slower pace. Ghosts of sounds barely emerge, until the piano, keyboard and (again Eastern-sounding) vocal duet begin to interplay. The rhythm picks up and a wide variety of other synth effects appear (There are some occasional doppler-effect bursts that sound suspiciously similar to some heard in The KLF's Chill Out  ... am I sample spotting?!)

An electric oscillation and a barking dog mark the beginning of Path 5. Flowing string/voice synths play under several different types of percussion and effects. Like most pieces, the sounds are plentiful and smoothly orchestrated though more often frenetic than serene. This Path does end quietly with running water, crickets, and rumbles that become...

Path 6 , which replays some now-familiar sounds and musical passages. This is the shortest of the Paths, running for only 2:48.

Similarly, Path 7 remixes many previous elements also, most notably some of the vocal pieces and short violin snippets from Path 2. Rather than seeming repetious or limited, it provides a sense of closure and interconnectedness between the entire work.

One big thumb up. I recommend this, especially to beginners who may not be familiar with such a wonderfully eclectic assemblage of sounds, effects and music. I look forward to hearing more of FSOL.1 thumb up
This review posted July 12, 1997

previous home next
  a-h i-q r-z