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(2002-09-10) Echoes Radio

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Just a Fuckin' Idiot

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(2002-09-10) Echoes Radio

PostMon Nov 25, 2013 6:12 pm

Echoes Radio 10th September 2002: FSOL's Technicolour Dreams

In their London studio, Garry Cobain of the Future Sound of London takes us inside the psychedelic landscape of their latest album, The Isness (Hypnotic Records). The spirits of Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, Revolver era Beatles and the pastoral sounds of Donovan inhabit The Isness like mischievous ghosts. Beatlesque harmonies, sitars, Mellotron flutes and phase-shifted vocals permeate the album in a flow from surreal sound collages. Formerly one of the more cynical among London's ambient house music scene, FSOL member Garry Cobain has found the light of spirituality and hears it reflected in 60s psychedelia. He rummages through his record collection and unlocks the grooves of The Isness.

The Future Sound of London sprung up on the ambient music scene like a psychedelic mushroom in the early 1990s with the ethno-techno anthem "Papua New Guinea". Albums like Accelerator, Lifeforms and Dead Cities followed, each building up their reputation of delerious and sometimes scary hallucinogenic journies. They've just released a new album called The Isness that takes a surprisingly pastoral turn, in their London studios, Kimberly Haas basks in the glow of spiritual ecstacy with The Future Sound of London.

Gaz Cobain: Lord Sitar, do you know that? The Stooges - Fun House, "Here Comes the Sun", great record, the Gunter Kallmann Chorus, now we're into kind of cheesy listening with a cosmic edge...

Interviewer: In a converted factory building in London, Garry Cobain sifts through a pile of vinyl recordings.

Gaz Cobain: ...the Tony Hatch Orchestra, there's a great version of "Light My Fire" on there...

Interviewer: For Cobain's group, The Future Sound of London, these records form not only their influences, but oftentimes, the actual sounds on their CDs. FSOL was on the leading edge of music in the early 90s, and their attitude reflected it. Albums like Accelerator, Lifeforms and especially Dead Cities were often harrowing journeys to the dark side of consciousness. This song ["We Have Explosive"] from 1996, became a life-changing moment for Garry Cobain.

Gaz Cobain: "We Have Explosive" was the track that caused the rupture in my life and my spirit, and I very much feel the world in its current state doesn't need an album that celebrates misery, technology, fear, all these things. I think the new paradigm, the consciousness shift for me is onto an album that celebrated the potential of life.

Interviewer: If Garry Cobain sounds like a hippy, he looks a bit like one too, with long brown hair, a stylish Van Dyke beard, an embroidered brown suede vest with no shirt. He arrived at a spiritual path after a lost weekend, an excursion into sex, drugs and rock'n'roll hedonism that left him so spiritually wasted that even his partner in FSOL, Brian Dougans, was wary.

Gaz Cobain: I think Brian had gotten a little bit tired of seeing a very wasted sort of guy standing at the door talking about how he'd taken loads of drugs and got laid and almost celebrating this excess.

Interviwer: But now Cobain speaks as if he's discovered the way. In the cluttered living room section of their studio, Cobain has giant posters of a long hair young man meditating and another of the late Bagwan Shri Rashni, the controversial guru also known as Osho. Citing Osho, Deepak Chopra and others, Cobain says he started leading a different life.

Gaz Cobain: I was kind of leading the life of a London Yogi, but I mean someone who had formed a kind of a Himalayan cave in the middle of London, in which I did yoga and meditated for three hours a day and ate only organic foods and fasted and did enemas and went over to India for a couple of months each year and I got into a lot of eastern mysticism. Generally for the first time in my life, I hit a balance.

Interviewer: Garry Cobain's spiritual journey east lead him naturally to Indian music and ragas, and that led him back to the psychedelic '60s.

Gaz Cobain: Psychedelia had experimentation, but it had experimentation with spirituality, and with fun and with sexuality and those things for me were slightly lacking.

Interviewer: Cobain and Brian Dougans began scouring used record stores and flea markets for vintage '60s artifacts. Since Cobain was born in 1967, it's been an archaeological expedition for him. With a stack of records at his feet, he joyfully reveals some of the sources of their latest CD, The Isness.

Gaz Cobain: ...the drums on this [Mystic Moods - "Cosmic Sea"], I mean this revolutionised our whole way of thinking about drums basically, it was like "we have to get into real drums". Kind of funky, loose, grandiose and epic. This particular track by UF69 was kind of really important, because it's a band, but the sound isn't like any other band. So let's check it out...

Interviewer: Cobain slips one scratchy vinyl record after another onto a turntable, moving from obscure '60s pop, to an Indian fusion track put out by classical guitarist John Williams in 1971.

Gaz Cobain: Wow, that is some piece of music.

Interviewer: All this music emerges in one form or another on The Isness. FSOL definitely mix in their samples with a whole host of live musicians, including guitarists, horn players, and even a blind sitarist from India. You might suspect that the psychedelic sound of The Isness is from drugs, but the avowedly straight Cobain claims that even songs like "The Galaxial Pharmaceutical" come from a sober state of mind.

Gaz Cobain: "The Galaxial Pharmaceutical" is about inner space exploration, and it's about going through all those levels of consciousness, but on the internal state.

Interviewer: The Isness sounds like a techno-warped throwback to the mid 1960s, when British groups would go out to the countryside, blow their minds, and come back with an album.

Gaz Cobain: Well I tried to drag Brian off to the country, but he wasn't accepted that part, but the rest 'blowing the mind' stuff, we tried to achieve that in numerous ways, yeah.

Interviewer: It's hard to determine whether Brian Dougans has followed Garry Cobain's path at all. He isn't talking.

Gaz Cobain: He's not interested in verbalising what he feels, whereas for me, communication is an absolutely essential part of what I do.

Interviewer: Garry Cobain says he's continuing his quest. He's also been working with one of his influences, '60s psychedelic folk icon Donovan. The latest album from The Future Sound of London is The Isness on Hypnotic Records, although if you're in England, you'll see it under their recording pseudonym, Amorphous Androgynous. For Echoes, I'm Kimberly Haas.

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