The Life and Times of FSOL, pt 3
Artist: Amorphous Androgynous (FSOL)
Title: Tales of Ephidrina
Format: CD (vinyl released in UK only)
Genre: Ambient, down tempo, IDM
FSOL has used countless aliases to experiment with different genres. Prior to their ambient days, the duo released vinyl singles and EPs under guises like Aircut, Art Science Technology, Yage, Candese, Mental Cube, Metropolis, Indo Tribe and others. Amorphous Androgynous became their most recognized post-“Accelerator” side project. In 1993, they released their first album and single under this project, but would not revisit this guise until 2002.
It was more of a way to test the waters for some new musical experiments that they had been planning. It was a hybrid of their earlier dance material with deeper ambient soundscapes. It is a fair balance and despite some dated sounds, this release allowed the band to eventually dive into their new comfort zone and it paved the way for their famous “Lifeforms” double album.
We open with some wild and strange sounds before the pulsing trance-esque beat kicks in. A fine blend of flutes, ambient synth and tuned-down early 90s styled percussive breaks make this track an obvious stand out single.
Between tracks is a nice blend of dark or swirling ambience, which really gives the album a seamless feel. “Swab,” our second track, still contains typical dance elements but it is quickly followed up by the significantly mellow “Mountain Goat.” This piece twangs away with a gentle and catchy guitar sample and soothing synth and a light, swooshy beat. This gives the album a truer ambient feel.
Subsequent tracks become slightly more experimental and they successfully bridge the gap between the duo’s dance roots and their never ending quest to create the future of music. “In Mind,” “Ephidrina,” and “Auto Pimp” propel the listener into a strange and isolate place in their mind. Some folks feel these are weaker points on the album and some feel these are the more powerful linking tracks.
In some ways, the structure of the album resembles their format for their live ISDN transmissions that would soon follow their release of “Lifeforms.” A track will start, complete, and be blended into the next piece with a fine pile of ambient soundscapes. I kind of find that to be interesting.
“Fat Cat” is a lighter track. Soothing synth and a gentle beat makes this piece instantly likable. We close with “Pod Room” which kicks off with a bizarre and haunting flute sample before buzzing to life with a warm hum. It is a simple track but it speaks so much despite that. Some odd sounds splash in at the end and finally, this eventually wraps up the album. Not bad.
Should you buy this? If you are a fan of early ambient works, mixes of ambient with dance tunes, or a fan of FSOL in general, then yes, I would highly recommend this. Yes, it may sound dated in a few spots but overly so, and especially not when you compare it to “Accelerator.” While this album has been out of print since 1993, it is still common to find used copies at lower prices online. You might pay a tad bit more for vinyl copies, though.
4 out of 5.