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(2002-08) Gallery of Sound

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(2002-08) Gallery of Sound

PostMon Nov 25, 2013 6:09 pm

Gallery of Sound August 2002: Takin' Care of Isness

Future Sound of London’s Gaz Cobain explains the philosophy and inspiration behind the band’s new album The Isness.
by Justin Hampton

Before talking to Garry “Gaz” Cobain, one should open up a sizeable block of time. For once he gets started, Cobain will fill your head with enough palaver and wisdom on Western Civilization, raw food diets, Eastern mysticism and personal discovery to fill several prayerbooks. It gets hard to steer him back to the subject—mainly, the latest LP by the Future Sound of London, The Isness (which he explains is an album by the group’s alter ego Amorphous Androgynous, but obscured by the American record company). But like all new agers, Cobain sees it all as an interlaced mesh, with all of his life’s experiences reflected in the finished product. "I always know that mankind is in a slight, fearful situation when he relies on science rather than intuition. And for me, because I became quite ill, I needed to find my intuition again. I needed to get much more hands-on, and I needed to kind of find my soul again," he explains. "In the process, I started to write a different kind of music. Electronica for me had run dry and it began to be very scientific and very technology-based, at which point I needed to hear soul again. I needed to hear technology but I wanted to use it to twist the sounds to produce that sort of otherness, that sort of beyondness."

Cobain’s picaresque journey began around the time of FSOL’s last LP Dead Cities, which reflected the disconnect of Cobain’s life. With money in his pocket from dual deals with Virgin and Sony, Cobain escaped to Los Angeles at the invitation of his good friend, Ian Astbury from the Cult. From there he began a series of adventures, detailed on the group’s website www.futuresoundoflondon.com, that read like a Modern Primitive’s version of Kerouac. Finally coming back to his music-writing partner Brian Dougans in 1998, Cobain desired to take the group’s music back to its psychedelic roots in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Heedless to the trends of the times, Cobain and Dougans turned to the Beatles, the Kinks, Donovan, Hendrix and other psychedelic forbears to get back in touch with a timelessness outside of techno’s trends.

"Brian loves electronic dance music. I do too, I love beats and I love that, but I just wanted to add different elements to that — this album for me is like a celebration of possibility. Some [dance music] seems to be written by businessmen. I view myself as an explorer, and I’ve structured my life to go really far out. I go really far out in my own personal exploration, and only when I’ve explored myself can I then inter-relate with the world."

Despite his spiritual awakenings to Ayurveda, Cobain still sounds as obsessive as ever about the sound and style he wishes to capture for this and future projects. He talks of a joint television/radio project based on this album’s "The Mello Hippo Disco Show", which could be described as Art Bell-meets-Firesign Theater. And many tracks (aided in part by Captain Beefheart/Gods and Monsters guitarist Gary Lucas) almost seem especially calculated to confound former FSOL listeners with more traditional forays into folk and straight-up psych-rock and virtually no bows to the DJ. But Cobain points out that he does not calculate, but only intuits what is right for him and by extension others. "Most industry at the moment in the music industry is living quite demographically. Rather than going with the instinct, most record companies are trying to second-guess what people are going to buy. Which means that we are getting a dearth of really liberating, consciousness-expanding music and art. And that at the end of the day is what art should be. And I thought very much to preserve the right to try and become conscious, to be aware."

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