The Life and Times of the Future Sound of London, pt 1

I’m not going to lie; I am a big Future Sound of London fan.  I am also one of their biggest critics at times.  I figured since I own almost everything the band has put out, I would recap their career, release by release.  There is so much the group has accomplished over the last twenty years and they have inspired countless electronic musicians across the globe. 

So here’s the first installment.  Enjoy!

Artists: Future Sound of London

Title: Accelerator

Label: Jumpin’ n ‘Pumpin, Hypnotic, R & S, etc…

Released: 1991 (reissues in 92, 96, 02 and 09)

Format: CD

Genre:  techno, ambient, house, ambient house, IDM

Exactly twenty years ago, after mulling about with various vinyl releases under a flurry of aliases, Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans settled on the name Future Sound of London and released “Accelerator” and made a splash. 

I got the 1996 Hypnotic version of this release on my fifteenth birthday and fell in love with it.  It was unlike anything I had heard before.  To be fair, I had just gotten into music at that time and I hadn’t heard much else.  Still, I was amazed.  It was a nice mix of ambient, house and techno. 

“Expander” is the opening track, and a nice way to start things off.  A drum sample from a Pink Floyd classic gives way to soaring synth and catchy beats.  It’s playful and it just has the right amount of dark to fill one’s ears.  Fantastic.  We are then launched into some decent tracks with typical synth and percussion from the early 90s and to be honest, it is nothing remarkable, but as the fusion moves more towards ambient with the addition of odd vocal samples, strange noises and odd bits that fall between tracks, there is some promise to be had for bigger things.

And I don’t meant that to be negative! The beats are simple and things flow very nicely in spots and what few odd segues are there, they are not noticeable enough to take away from the music.  This is a decent record for the time it was released.

“Central Industrial” has to be my third favorite track here.  It is unique in its opening… this eager female voice exclimes, “welcome to Central Industrial!  We are the future!”  And it works.  The track kicks off with a mechanical beat that is slightly reminiscent of mid-career Kraftwerk and some dark acid squelches highlight the haunting choral bits.  I have to admit, this song ranks highly with me to this day.

And of course, you cannot review this album without mentioning the highlight track that single handedly put the band on the map and launched them into their ambient and wild experimentalism that has kept us eager for more over the years.  “Papua New Guinea” fused ethnic beats with a percussion sample from a track by Circuit, along with a vocal sample from a Dead Can Dance track- those are two unlikely things to be put together, but the mix is flawless.  Next, some of the most classic synth pads ever finally spin us into a whole other universe.  Sure, it may sound a tiny bit dated today, but it is still a classic.  This was the turning point for the band and ambient music as a whole.  I’ll touch more on this when I review the single later on.

Should you buy this release?  If you are a fan of the early, carefree days of dance music, or are a big fan of the band’s later work, you might like this.  It is nice to get a look at the the early workings of the band prior to “Lifeforms” and “Deaed Cities.” However, if  you’re looking for something more sophisticated or less dance oriented, this may not be the piece for you.  If you are looking for the highlights, stick to the two singles from this album.

The early versions of the album do not feature the remixes of “Expander” or “Moscow.”  However, they do appear on the Hypnotic version and nearly all of the subsequent reissues.  A deluxe edition was released in 2002/3 which showcased a remastering of the album and includes a bonus disc of remixes of “Papua New Guinea.”  With the numerous reissues, prices have been fairly low.

3.75 Out of 5

(but still near and dear to my heart!)

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About Nick H.

I'm a geek for music whether it be on vinyl, CD, 78 or whatever. My goal is to sniff out the greated music on Earth, specializing in the obscure. I make music myself as well, mostly ambient and sound collage (1 album out and a few remixes so far). I work full time as a professional mascot (it pays the pills) but will soon retire, i hope.
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