In order to get the full FSOL experience, you have to at least take a look back to their earliest material. In the early 90s, the duo donned multiple aliases and pressed vinyl to pay the bills, a few of these included the Pulse EPs. Originally released in 1991, these four volumes featured their FSOL, Indo Tribe, and Yage projects as well as tracks from Mental Cube and Smart Systems. These were pressed on 12” vinyl and were mainly hardcore, acid, house or ambient house in genre.
Around the same time, the duo released the Earthbeat compilation. This seemed to feature many A-sides from their various 12” aliases, including Candese, Smart Systems, Mental Cube, Yage, Semi Real, Humanoid, and FSOL. While there was some crossover on tracks between this release and the Pulse EPs, for the most part, this featured a wealth of newer material at the time.
Which brings us to the present day. The Pulse EPs get a reissue on one compact disc via Jumpin’n’Pumpin, whom had released the original vinyl editions. Getting to the meat of this review, it’s hard to really point out what strongly stands out and what doesn’t. By that, I mean, each track seems to have been created in an effort to get you moving on the dance floor, even if it’s on the mellow side of things. Some tracks are slamming and others come off gentle. Many, however, are very dated and don’t hold up well to the test of time but I must say that this does not mean they sound bad. Seriously, some of these are the catchiest dance tunes these guys have come up with to date. I am guilty of loving many of these tracks unconditionally.
On some of these tracks, you can pick out affects and sound clips that would later find themselves mixed up and slightly altered in tracks later on down the line. Some are harder to catch and some are more obvious, but you might recognize some sounds from various “Accelerator” and “Lifeforms” tracks. And that’s not to mention that one or two tracks as a whole would get lifted and would reappear on “Accelerator” despite a slight variation in name.
So, onward to, “By Any Other Name.” This is a bit of a curiosity because it’s archived material from 1990-1992, again, mostly from their early aliases, with the addition of Dope Module. Right away, a Mental Cube track charts us between hardcore and house, bouncing along in a catchy-as-hell fashion. Correct me if I’m wrong, but is “Just Look” a remix of “Bite the Bullet Baby” because I swear it is… I guess using the same vocal sample might lead to that suspicion. Or are we giving old tracks new names again? This is evident in the case of the track “Visual Attack.” On this CD, it’s labeled as a track by Smart Systems when it was originally released under the name Air Cut, a somewhat obscure FSOL alias that released material on Sonic Records and Beatfarm. And I like how the Dope Module tracks feature many samples from “Dead Cities” tracks.
All right, so maybe there is a little track crossover here between their older aliases and previous releases, but honestly, despite these repeats or near-original-remixes, this CD still holds quite a bit of fun and original material. And, honestly, I love it. This is some funky stuff. It’s a nice mix between hardcore, house, acid, ambient and experimental.
So, are both compilations worth a buy? Yes.
“The Pulse EPs” and “By Any Other Name” offer a variety of early FSOL dance tunes that are otherwise hard to get a hold of nowadays. Fans of early 90s techno will enjoy this and diehard fans of FSOL will find this essential. If you enjoyed “Accelerator” and are looking for more along those sounds, these might be for you.
Should you buy “Earthbeat”? If you can find a copy, go for it. Yes, there is a bit of crossover between these three compilations but there is also a bit that never made it to a reprint. It also may be easier to buy this release than to go hunting for each vinyl where the tracks originated from. Just don’t spend any more than you have to; this release is out of print and often gets high collector prices.
Earthbeat: 4.5 out of 5
Pulse EPs: 4.7 out of 5
By Any Other Name: 4.8 out of 5