The Future Sound of London
Lifeforms


5.0
classic

Review

by Andru Okenuf USER (31 Reviews)
August 11th, 2012 | 66 replies | 6,543 views


Release Date: 1994 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Welcome to the next level.

11 of 11 thought this review was well written

Lifeforms. The sprawling 2 disc LP by the Future Sound of London (Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans) that forever changed the way I look at music. How I arrived at this album and why it clicked so clearly with me I do not know. The strange atmosphere has puzzled and confused listeners who are not sure what to do with the bizarre set of sounds they’re presented with. There’s nothing catchy about it whatsoever, and the change of pace, the lack of structure, the sense that everything is so far away makes listening to even 1 of the 2 discs an incredibly exhausting experience.

But therein lies its brilliance. The atmosphere created is unparalleled, the feeling of being elsewhere, detached in a beautifully alien jungle, is so powerful and real that it renders listeners completely disoriented. Delving into the album gives the world a different tint; everything feels so vibrant and full of life. Avatar-esque surroundings are brought to life through aural stimuli every bit as gorgeously as in James Cameron’s visual representation. But unlike Avatar, which relied on expensive gadgetry to create something artificial, Cobain and Dougans know just how to push listeners into their plane, impressing new and beautiful surroundings whenever a sound has taken its course.

It takes ‘Cascade’ a couple minutes to begin to integrate you into your new surroundings, and as the quietly caustic ‘Ill Flower’ subtly leads into the mind-bending, spacy ‘Flak’, the album has already taken shape. But the whole thing is absolutely gripping from beginning to end. The duo manages to use silence and softness in their sound to speak, giving listeners the time to come to an understanding with what they just heard before pushing forward. While any electronic band owes part of their sound to pioneers such as Tangerine Dream and Kraftwerk, they draw significantly from World Music as well as tropical noises that out of context don’t even sound like music at all. In some ways, their sound is similar to the colorfully rich comedown music of contemporaries The Orb, but the extraterrestrial feel is entirely its own. And it’s mobile, it’s as full of life as a rainforest and it’s continually presenting you with a new and exciting way to look at things.

“I can hear myself … I think I’m a bit afraid … They were drowning me” is heard in clear English in the opening to ‘Among Myselves,’ displaying overtly the introspective element that often takes over. From self-awareness to fear to paranoia these words show a very human element to an album filled with the supernatural. The scattered sets of sounds that compose the majority of the album activate an incredibly wide spectrum of emotions time and time again. Noises heard at 0:35 into ‘Cerebral’ are particularly soothing and 5:25 into ‘Eggshell’ particularly empowering. And while these stand out in my mind, new realizations still happen each time I listen, having crept into my subconscious minutes before I discover what they’ve done to me.

In terms of how the duo interact, Cobain has said that he creates most of the melodies and soft sounds, while Dougans is the technology whiz who uses machines and programming to add a supernatural effect. The enigmatic group remains active today and though nothing they do will likely top this impeccable 1994 release, the last page has not yet been turned on the Future Sound of London.



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user ratings (165)
Chart.
4.2
excellent
other reviews of this album
Mike Stagno EMERITUS (5)
Lifeforms may not have become the prototype for London's future sound, but it is still one of the st...

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Comments:Add a Comment 
Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 10th 2012



49801 Comments


Sweet
I always see this album cover around and think wow rad

Digging: Empire! Empire! (I Was a Lonely Estate) - You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

aok
August 10th 2012



4318 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

Cause 1 5 review for this album just isn't enough, though Mike's review was quite excellent. This was a tough one to write but hopefully a decent read. Feedback appreciate as always. Oh and I only rec'd Tangerine Dream - Phaedra, because I think it's the only other album that could potentially be as powerful an ambient album as this one. Cheers

Cascade ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WVRAPIXzb1o )
Cerebral ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1l9QJSy63T8 )
Papua New Guines ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GCoCTkC0oL0 -- the hit fsol song that's not on lifeforms)

aok
August 10th 2012



4318 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

whoa trebor you sniped in. yea, i have a moderate obsession with this album and the cover lol. you should listen mann

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 10th 2012



49801 Comments


I'll check it out later, can't interrupt the flow of Feedbacker

SgtPepper
Staff Reviewer
August 10th 2012



4383 Comments


Great review, man.
I havent really listened to this in full, I know I must. Ive heard a couple songs and I do like the weirdness of it. POS'd.

Ire
August 10th 2012



41749 Comments


nice review aoki neff

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2012



30892 Comments


One of the greatest albums ever made

Digging: FaltyDL - In The Wild

ZedO
August 11th 2012



1096 Comments


gonna listen to this asap, electronica expert has spoken!

Rev
August 11th 2012



9382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

does anyone have a decent resolution image of the album cover? everything I've ever found for it is awful and it drives me nuts

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2012



30892 Comments


Of the whole thing or?

Because: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:FSOL_-_entire_lifeforms_artwork_-_Devil_Girl_and_Electronic_Brain.jpg

Trebor.
Contributing Reviewer
August 11th 2012



49801 Comments


I heard one track and it was rad, probably gonna get the whole thing

Rev
August 11th 2012



9382 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I was looking for one with at least a clear 500x500 size but it's whatever because that probably doesn't exist



oh well, that one is better than any other I've come across so it'll have to do

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
August 11th 2012



30892 Comments


http://www.body-pixel.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/09/fsol_lifeforms.jpg

Best I could spot

Ovrot
August 11th 2012



10468 Comments


hey this is that akouneff album

Digging: Jean Michel Jarre - Oxygene

MO
August 11th 2012



18261 Comments


fuck yes rules as does review

Digging: Immolation - Dawn of Possession

Spare
August 11th 2012



5252 Comments


one of the best albums to exist probably

higher res art:
http://i.imgur.com/rIZPW.jpg
http://i.imgur.com/gXuLr.jpg

Digging: Radiator Hospital - Torch Song

Recspecs
August 11th 2012



9820 Comments


#andy4contrib2013

Will check this out later, great review.

Digging: Borgore - #NewGoreOrder

Spare
August 11th 2012



5252 Comments


yeah this was one of the slowest growers i can remember

aok
August 11th 2012



4318 Comments

Album Rating: 5.0 | Sound Off

dayum baseline your new avatar is lookin sexy

Recspecs
August 11th 2012



9820 Comments


Is that what she looks like irl if so I need to continue my pursuit.



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