Top July 1994: Future Sound of London. Sordid, honest, reflective, narcissistic – anything but emotionless
By Chris Campion
Future Sound Of London are the spike in the power supply of electronic music; the human element that introduces character defects into a music usually considered devoid of any emotion. As Garry Cobain explains, their music is anything but emotionless.
“It’s a horrible, brutal face-to-face mirror that surrounds me. I think our music is sordid in how honest and how reflective it is. The other thing about it is that it’s very narcissistic, it’s totally us and our space,” he says.
“Electronic music, by its very nature, should be about what we stand for. Which, yes, does lead to fucking mental illness and disorder, because you’re assuming that you are not a natural genius. It means that I just can’t walk in here and be totally confident and do what I do and think it’s going to be fucking great. I have to walk in here and analyse why I’m doing anything, and it is totally unhealthy. But I think it’s really good for music because a lot of other electronic musicians are fucking lazy.”
Caught between playing the pop star game and the anonymity afforded them by new electronic media, Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans, have surfaced from Earthbeat Studios, their North London base, aware of the contradictions inherent in their current press coverage.
“Anyone who has come across any of our product doesn’t really need us overriding what we are conveying, in terms of coming out and being mouth. I mean we are. That’s the big hypocrisy about us. We are being mouth at the moment but that’s because I’m quite tired of people thinking I’m a non-personality just because I don’t thrust myself out in front of it. I
just think in the long term with our aims and what we are attempting to do, that would ruin it. But maybe it’s ruining it already. That’s another angle to us. FSOL is dying around us, because people are associating that it has value. And when things have value we kind of set other things up, so maybe another entity will become this broadcast unit. If we don’t
achieve it in the next year then FSOL won’t have achieved this unifying of media, which is what we see.
The unifying of media is how FSOL would like to present themselves. Music is just one channel of communication as far as they are concerned. Earthbeat is where they produce their music, design their electronic artworks – they tried to sell the cover of Lifeforms to Virgin for £150,000 maintaining it was a piece of art; Virgin refused. This month Lifeforms, a new forty-minute single featuring the vocal strains of the Cocteau Twins’ Liz Fraser, is finally set to be released after months of record company farce. “She’s one of the few vocalists that we find really evocative,” says Garry. “Most musicians are just so linear in their thoughts. I went down there to try and conduct the whole thing. I had this theory of getting a moment of genius which we would then sample. But I came back with 16 tracks of beauty-stroke-mess. It was very confusing!” In so doing Cobain sums up the essence of Future Sound Of London.
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