Title: Teachings from the Electronic Brain – The Best of FSOL
Label: Virgin, Astralwerks
Nearly fifteen years after the launch of the FSOL project and in the middle of the duo’s psychedelic escapades, this compilation arrives. This is also the first time the band had released anything through the Astralwerks label since 1997. A lot of us were curious about this compilation as it played host to a huge variety of their material, spanning from their debut album to “Isness.” The mix, we had hoped, would be seamless and fusing their past with their present.
Now, I have a promotional copy, perhaps originally slated for radio play so mine is completely unmixed. I am not certain if non-promotional copies are the same way. I can only imagine how this would sound if it were seamlessly glued together… I mean, really, Papua New Guinea leading into Dead Cities material would be a real feat. Some pieces are still mixed together, namely Everyone in the World is Doing Something Without Me and My kingdom – perhaps because they appeared consecutively on Dead Cities – which preserves some of that good old FSOL magic.
Some segments of tracks feature additional samples, are ever so slightly remixed or contain some snippets of other FSOL tracks, giving them a somewhat original feel unique to this compilation. For example, “Smokin Japanese Babe” opens with samples from “Amoeba” and some additional voices and flute clips before launching into the original track from ISDN.
Otherwise, this is a fairly decent overview of FSOL’s material. It captures glimpses of their mid-90s career and it gives you a light taste of their pre- and post-ambient era stuff. The selection of tracks here is well thought out and provides a decent starting point for folks curious about FSOL’s music who haven’t really explored their albums yet. Of course, with that said, fans who already have all of their albums to date won’t find too much new here, aside from a few new samples and light alterations.
My only complaints are that the music wasn’t mixed seamlessly, as it would have been with their albums, but again, I suppose that’s not a huge issue and could just be my copy. Secondly, it may have been worthwhile to give us a few rare tracks or unreleased material. I know a digital EP was released around the time this compilation came out that featured some scarce stuff, but for those of us who missed it, we’re left without it.
4 out of 5.