The Future Sound of London
Lifeforms


5.0
classic

Review

by Mike Stagno EMERITUS
February 7th, 2009 | 128 replies


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Lifeforms may not have become the prototype for London's future sound, but it is still one of the strongest records to come out of the 90s.

Despite all the efforts of British duo Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans (read: no less than thirty albums under twenty-five different aliases), the electronica they envisioned as London's future sound over the past twenty-one years never exactly transitioned into the city's present sound. But it's been a fantastic run all the same, even if the duo has been focusing more on their psychedelic, progressive material as of late. With that said, the most impressive works in The Future Sound of London's back catalogue are some of the duo's earliest studio albums. The production of Lifeforms was well underway as Cobain and Dougans released Tales of Ephindrina under the Amorphous Androgynous banner in 1993. Accordingly, whereas Tales of Ephindrina did a great job in combining the techno of the duo's earliest writings and the ambience of their later works, Lifeforms takes on a more complex, experimental structure. In doing this, The Future Sound of London not only cemented their status as one of the scene's top acts, but also crafted one of the genre's top records.

If Lifeforms was held back by anything at all, it would certainly be its large volume of tracks. There are longer electronic albums from that era, of course; case in point, The Orb's Adventures Beyond the Ultraworld exceeds it by nearly twenty minutes. But with ninety-two minutes of material spread over nineteen songs on two discs, Lifeforms can make for quite the daunting listen nevertheless. That isn't to say that it's tedious, just a bit dense on the first few listens. Contributing to the album's arguably inaccessible aura is the experimental direction taken by Cobain and Dougans. Album opener "Cascade", for example, opens with a minute and a half of alien sounding overtures and spacey samples, before transitioning into a melting pot of said samples, a subtle, synthesized ambience, and light beats. And though much of the double album is spent experimenting with a delicate sound built on sweeping samples and shrouds of electric noise, it would be a mistake to pigeonhole Lifeforms into having nineteen different versions of "Cascade". One of the album's most impeccable aspects is its subtle format; there's just so much going on in nearly every song that you'll hear something new on each listen.

The album's antithesis, then, is its title track. A hit single in the UK, "Lifeforms" abandons the soft, discreet textures so predominately featured throughout the double album in favour of heavier ambient house influences. The song is owns one of Lifeforms' heaviest rhythm sections, making it one of the record's more in-your-face-type tracks, and certainly the catchiest. Parts of "Among Myselves" also echo the title track's dancier moments, but not without applying the oddities heard in virtually every other track. And despite standing out as two of the few truly danceable tracks on a primarily ambient album, both "Lifeforms" and "Among Myselves" hardly sound out of place.

But as notable as the likes of "Lifeforms", the driving "Flak" (which incidentally features guitarist Robert Fripp of King Crimson fame), and the almost frightening "Spineless Jelly" may be, the sheer scope of Lifeforms prevents it from being anything other than brilliant. Falling victim to the old quality vs. quantity debate, double albums tend to taper off the longer they go on. With Lifeforms, however, The Future Sound of London build off and improve on each subsequent track; consequently, to pinpoint a highlight is virtually impossible as nearly every song could make a case for such an honour. But such talk is moot in the end as Lifeforms is just such a rewarding record to listen to. It's dense. It's expansive. It's relaxing, engaging, intimate, strange, perhaps pretentious at times, and an assortment of other positive adjectives. But above all else, Lifeforms is a blast to listen to and ranks up with the Boards of Canadas, the Shpongles, The Orbs as for as 90s electronic music is concerned.



Recent reviews by this author
Funeral for a Friend ConduitPropagandhi Failed States
Tycho DiveMegadeth Th1rt3en
Fair to Midland Arrows and AnchorsArch Enemy Khaos Legions
user ratings (175)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Andru Okenuf (5)
Welcome to the next level....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Willie
Moderator
February 7th 2009


16132 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

Awesome review. I've always wanted to review this, but it seemed like such a huge task. Two discs of this kind of music, and so dense. I know this is old, but it should still get featured.

Digging: Kenn Nardi - Dancing With the Past

StreetlightRock
Emeritus
February 7th 2009


3777 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Album blows my mind. Sick review.

AlexTM510
February 8th 2009


1404 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Great review

Streetlight you recommended me this a few weeks back and I finally got to sink my teeth into and I love it so thank you.

Digging: Bent Knee - Shiny Eyed Babies

Doppelganger
February 8th 2009


3124 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I will be looking into this.

Mikesn
Emeritus
February 8th 2009


3709 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

As you should.

Two discs of this kind of music, and so dense.
But so good

lexicons
February 8th 2009


144 Comments


I had somehow never heard of this album until yesterday...oh wow

Phantom
February 8th 2009


8930 Comments


This sounds awesome, will be checking it out as soon as possible.

Thanks for the rec.

xNintendoCorex
February 9th 2009


1272 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

pretty damn good

Willie
Moderator
February 10th 2009


16132 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0

It's reviews and albums like this that make me wish we had a place to feature "classic" albums and not just new releases.This Message Edited On 02.09.09

Mendigo
February 10th 2009


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

sounds really really awesome. gonna look into it soon.

Hyperbore
February 10th 2009


856 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

Soon? Do it yesterday. This is one of the best things to come out of electronica.

Mendigo
February 11th 2009


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

yahhh, ok. gettin this right now.

Mendigo
February 11th 2009


2299 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

got it. like it.

xNintendoCorex
February 12th 2009


1272 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

it really is something different to listen to.
so good

big80smullet
February 12th 2009


41 Comments


This sounds awesome. will get

natey
March 5th 2009


4170 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is really good. Thanks for the review.

Essence
April 2nd 2009


3588 Comments


Will go find shortly

MassiveAttack
July 14th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm about to listen to this next month. If anyone is interested I think the members from this band went on to form a more psychedelic project named Amorphous Androgynous, which is really down to earth.

TricksterGRex
July 14th 2009


2087 Comments


Why next month?

MassiveAttack
July 14th 2009


2688 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Still listening to other stuff good sir. Lots on the plate atm.



You have to be logged in to post a comment. Login | Create a Profile





FAQ // STAFF & CONTRIBUTORS // SITE FORUM // CONTACT US

Bands: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z


Site Copyright 2005-2014 Sputnikmusic.com
All Album Reviews Displayed With Permission of Authors | Privacy Policy