Artist of the Week – The Future Sound of London

I’ve been publishing these old overviews of artists for a few weeks now. They’re from my former radio show Music for the Masses, which took place over a decade ago, and so they tend to be laden with hyperbole, as well as a few inaccuracies. Just so you know…

The Future Sound of London are Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans, undoubtedly one of the most influential and outstanding electronic acts of the last fifteen years [this was written in 2005], but sadly not especially well known.

In 1988, Brian embarked on a project for the Stakker graphics company. He created a track called Stakker Humanoid, which was accompanied by a mad video. Gaz got involved with the project and its accompanying album, featuring some eighties style vocal house.

The following three years resulted in Gaz and Brian’s partnershp growing, working under many different guises, and a lot of early techno and hardcore tracks. With Stakker Humanoid re-entering the chart in 1992, followed by the breakthrough ambient club track Papua New Guinea (the first full Future Sound of London release) they were getting more recognition. It was then reissued by Virgin, and literally stormed the charts, followed closely by the album Accelerator and further singles.

When their third studio album, the double CD epic Lifeforms was released in 1994, it was instantly celebrated as one of the greatest ambient/electronica albums of the nineties, featuring the huge hits Cascade and Lifeforms. This album was followed in 1995 with ISDN, a semi-live album which was performed live from their studio across the internet, using the then-new ISDN technologies to stream live over the net in the first event of its kind.

In 1996 they returned again, with a tale of urban decay and hell on earth entitled Dead Cities. A mixture of the flavours they included before and something new, this album was a huge success, including the smash hit We Have Explosive. Another ISDN world tour followed, ending with a John Peel session of even more new music. And then the stream of music came to an abrupt and unexpected end. Two 12″ records appeared with the EBV name on them – from Oil and Headstone Lane, on FSOL’s own record label.

Legend has it that after Dead Cities they realised that they were heading in the wrong direction. They were getting more noisy, beginning behind these sounds, making music they didn’t really want to make. They wanted to write more melody-based music. [I’m aware now that this paragraph doesn’t make a lot of sense. Sorry.]

And then in 2001, suddenly they reappeared almost as if they never left. Psychedelic DJ sets, countless Papua New Guinea remixes, an entirely new mini-album of reinterpretations of Papua New Guinea entitled Translations, and news of a new full-length album. This all faded away again until mid-2002, when The Isness was released, followed by a single release of The Mello Hippo Disco Show.

The Isness was reissued in January this year, in a double CD set, entitled The Isness & The Otherness.


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