Progressive Sounds 3rd September 2002
As the Future Sound Of London, Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans etched a template for outstanding music in the early 90s with Accelerator and the acclaimed ISDN and its live show experience. As the years went on, they both became unsure about where they were heading and as Garry fell ill due to mercury poisoning their legacy was laid to rest. After several years of rediscovery and healing, the duo have reunited and return to the old Amorphous Androgynous alias to deliver a new album, The Isness. Read on to find out about what the duo have been up to over the past few years, information about the album, and what they have planned for the future.
Interviewer: It's been 10 years since the release of "Papua New Guinea" and the debut Future Sound Of London album, Accelerator were released. Do you think the scene is slowly coming full circle again and the barriers of what the public are willing to listen to rather than having all the genrification that exists rammed down their throats are coming crashing down once more?
Garry Cobain: I think those artists who remain true to themselves have been pushing beyond boundaries and limitations all the way along. The music business got so tight in recent years that obviously you'd find not many labels would be willing to take a risk with something they could not easily market. In the same way it's why magazines put popular faces on the cover. Just like a record label wants to sell many records, a magazine wants to sell copies, so they use the tools they know will work. If we had wanted to put out something as the Future Sound Of London over the past few years we have been away you can guarantee someone would have bought it from us, but obviously we wanted to re-group and see where we wanted to go and after various other occurrences we are finally getting there. For one reason or another, soon the public will obviously realise there's a lot more out there and this has been happening with those who love music for years. Those who are happy to go look through the latest top 40 albums will continue to do so, whilst those looking for good music will dig further. Club culture is much the same. There are many good lesser-known DJs out there running small parties, which push boundaries and limits further than a big club.
Interviewer: Following on from the innovative retrospective of "Papua New Guinea" with the Translations mini album last year, the new album The Isness marks a long awaited return. Has the album come together in way you had intended it to or do you still have many ideas to develop?
Garry Cobain: Obviously nothing ever goes to plan in the world of music. It's always imperfect, and for a perfectionist like myself I think you have to think about where the line lies. Obviously we are still finding ourselves and will continue to develop over the coming months. Our Future Sound Of London material will allow us to set out on even further voyages of discovery when the time is right, and Brian plans to release some new Stakker material on Rephlex. I say new, but in fact it's material that was written during the period 1985-1988 and has only now decided on what to do with it. I think the word 'Future' can be ambiguous and be interpreted to mean something new that hasn't been tried before, in much the same way as the world 'innovative' is associated with technology, and we just want to do something more spiritual and organic and the album is all about the last five years of re-discovery as well as looking back to our past influences. We choose to go back to our Amorphous Androgynous guise as we felt the sound of the album had developed past the whole 'Future Sound Of London' idea
Interviewer: There was a period in time when you become ill due to the mercury fillings in your teeth affecting your immunity system. What did you think when you first discovered this, and how hard was it for you at the time? What did the healing and comeback process from this illness entail?
Garry Cobain: It was very traumatic at first. I was in disbelief and couldn't really grasp it, but when you discover you have a high level of mercury in your body you obviously trace them back to the source, in this case 10 fillings. I went out and researched it and looked for information about what was happening to me. I remember being on the Tube in London reading some research documents by an acclaimed scientist on the subject and I was laughing and crying at the same time. It was a relief to know about what was happening to me but at the same time it makes you realise that things like AIDS, Cancer, and other ailments can be traced back to such simple things as a bunch of fillings. From there I went off travelling, discovering spiritualism and healing and just finding myself really. Obviously for Brian it was a very tough time as well as for years he never knew any different other than working with me, but I think all of our exploration and rediscovery shows on The Isness. It's a lo-fi album that shows who we are and what has come to make us who we are, its intuition in the same way was it is spiritual or even technological and if we were to be critical you can feel there is two different minds coming together to create a very warm record.
Interviewer: Collectively you're always gone out of your way to find original samples and material to incorporate into your productions and live shows. What are you thoughts on artists such as Goldie who have openly gone on record previously to say how he loves to sample acts like the Future Sound Of London?
Garry Cobain: The ambient scene has always been popular amongst the producers in the drum and bass scene. To people like us who have never really followed the electronic scene, we stayed away from the drum programming that was all the rage there, but obviously people like Goldie were influenced by the material we created as part of the ambient scene and we were one of many ambient acts and artists who I supposed influenced some of the sounds in that scene. You could look at it as a slight, but in a way it can also be quite a flattering compliment.
Interviewer: The ISDN show was vaunted one of the outstanding experiences of the 1990s. Bearing in mind the technological advancements since then, would you like to do something from a different perspective if the opportunity arose do you have plans to develop a tour to promote the album as well as further ahead into the future?
Garry Cobain: We have ideas of possibly doing something much like ISDN was, but obviously in this day and age technology and ISDN and the Internet is commonplace. In the same way people are beginning to see that marriage, money, cars, and jobs can be just phalluses and are expanding themselves and looking further, trying to find themselves. We would not go off in the scary futuristic direction we embarked upon with ISDN, more likely into something much more organic.
Interviewer: Name five of your favourite albums which have influenced you up to this day.
Garry Cobain: Hard to choose just five, but here's a few:
Miles Davis - Panthalassia - Easterrn tinged jazz electronica
Rolling Stones - Their Satanic Majesties Request - Classic Psychadelia
Crosby Stills Nash Young - Deja Vu
White Noise - "Love Without Sound."
Almost anything by Jeff Buckley
Interviewer: What do you think shaped the sound of today?
Garry Cobain: At the beginning of the 90s there was a rush of music, everyone was exploring new ideas and sounds. Artists like Black Dog, Global Communication and Aphex Twin were really making a name for themselves, but I believe a lot of sounds that helped bring things to where they are were most often or not the lesser known records and producers. These days you can still pick up elements of those ideas and sounds in most of today's electronic records, it's almost like it's going full circle at the moment
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