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(2002-09) Pulse Magazine

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Just a Fuckin' Idiot

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(2002-09) Pulse Magazine

PostMon Nov 25, 2013 6:12 pm

Pulse Magazine September 2002

Psych Out In the mid-'90s, the duo alternately known as Amorphous Androgynous and the FSoL made some of the most innovative electronic music of the era. But after 1996's Dead Cities--a complex mass of distended urban decay set amid ominous, electronic atmospheres--the pair promptly disappeared to origins unknown. Brian Dougans, the methodical studio whiz, was often seen in London pubs playing darts and eating chocolate; Garry Cobain, the mad hatter, was reportedly spotted in Calcutta, India, and Marin County, Calif., obsessed with finding a cure for his mystery ailment.

"As I got into the discovery of what was happening to me," says Cobain from the duo's loft studio in London's Kensal Road neighborhood, "I began to realize that I wasn't who I thought I was. Consequently, I had a spiritual awakening and started to discover a kind of childishness and intuition."

That self-discovery, along with Dougans' sudden fondness for the records of Donovan, Ananda Shankar, David Bowie's Space Oddity and the Beatles' "Tomorrow Never Knows," resulted in their most experimental record yet, the profoundly psychedelic The Isness (Hypnotic).

"The word 'psychedelic'," explains Cobain, "although it is steeped in folklore and is attributed to psychedelic drugs, it actually means the guileless viewpoint of a child. To a child the planet is naturally psychedelic. It is only by conditioning and shutting off your perceptual abilities that you end up not seeing the world as psychedelic."

The Isness forgoes the old loops and bleeps of electronica for a sitar-drenched freak fest that would've fit comfortably in the LSD-contorted cosmos of the Woodstock generation. With most songs written on guitar and bearing Cobain's fluffy vocals, The Isness cavorts from the "I Am the Walrus" hallucinations of "The Mello Hippo Disco Show" and the drunken Donovan tones of "Goodbye Sky" to the Hendrix-esque P-Funk-like jam of "The Lovers" to the epic treatise on all things Pink Floyd, "The Galaxial Pharmaceutical." Capturing the psychedelic Zeitgeist in all its nonsense and nirvana, Cobain and Dougans reinvent themselves. And for Cobain, it was none too soon.

"It is very easy to view life as something that is dark and to make music that is based on fear," he says. "It was getting boring. When I was becoming ill, I had to concentrate on something that was more positive. And FSoL had become, let's face it, a corporate trademark across the world for whatever it meant to you. So we've clawed it back to being us again. Two blokes making music, enjoyable, and not so corporate."

And what exactly was the illness that sidelined Cobain and Dougans for lo, the past six years? Just look in your cavity-filled gob, man.

"My immune system was shot to ribbons by my mercury fillings," says Cobain. "I developed an arrhythmic heart, massive food and environmental allergies, eczema all over my face and back, stiff joints. You are talking mass conspiracy shit here. Mercury, silver--it's the same thing. That is the delusion. They use the word 'silver' to avoid telling you that you have the second most toxic substance known to man in your gob."

With he and Dougans sporting new composite fillings after having the dangerous mercury ones removed by men in white biohazard suits, the pair are back in the game, with The Isness designed to set the world all aglow with its wondrous psychedelic whirr.

"For us, it has been a rebalancing between technology and heart and soul and mind, and all these other variables that are so preeminent in western life."

Cobain loosens his white bandana and nibbles some wheat germ.

"There is a huge consciousness shift going on that is parallel to '69, '70. All the clothes designers are getting into fabric and color. Stuff that we have been collecting for five years is exploding. Everyone is realizing that ostentation is joyful and expressive."

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