Future Sound of London
U boats, nosebleeds and the motormouths of dance, Julian Carerra shares a periscope with the Future Sound Of London and discovers why intelligent House music is now no longer a pipe dream.
Accelerator is a cosmic fantasy – an altar ego trip. Mature and assured, it signposts a way forward for electronic music. I meet Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain, The Future Sound Of London, creators of the sublime pan-global Accelerator, in their north London studio, Earthbeat. A glittering array of technology, discs with tea stains and record sleeves carved out of the money they saw from the success of Humanoid Stakker. This is important – The Future Sound Of London have been on this trip for four years now, and have recorded under a multitude of names. Humanoid, AST, Mental Cube, Smart Systems, Candese and Yage have all been monikers for Garry and Brian’s work, but it’s with Future Sound, Accelerator, and the blinding single 'Papua New Guinea', that motormouth Garry (look like a U-boat captain in leather trousers and Docs) and retiring Brian (the arch technokid; newly shorn and loose fit) have emerged from this awkward, self-imposed underground.
“It’s not us being willfully obscure!” counters Garry. “When we did this interview for Newsbeat, this woman said ‘You’re so obscure. Why haven’t you come forward before?’ and it was like, well, if you’d asked us to do an interview before, we would’ve come forward before.
“With the names, we weren’t really sure of what we were doing. We were coming out with lots of styles. We see Papua New Guinea as a composite of loads of different styles.” Garry isn’t adverse to a bit of a rant, “That’s the problem of the last couple of years, people have just picked upon one style. It’s been rather like being a football supporter and hating everyone apart from who you support. We listen to anything that’s good; we’d be spiking our faces if we didn’t, really.”
Brian looks at Garry incredulously. “Spiking our faces?”
“I see the term ‘dance’ as really restrictive for us.” Garry knows it and I know it too. Accelerator is not just a ‘dance’ album. “I don’t think it enables us to do half of what we want to do if we consider ourselves ‘dance’. I mean, we have our roots in dance and I still think the best, most innovative music is coming out of dance music, just purely because dance music is electronics. And I think 90% of the nation still switch off to the term ‘dance’.
“I think Accelerator is an album that could be listened to by quite a lot of people; not just people in the dance field.”
Intelligent House music is now no longer a pipe dream. It seems to me that dance music, as most of us don’t know it, is splitting into two extremes: faster and faster and mellower and mellower. Brains versus nosebleed perhaps?
“Hmm, well, we’ve done a couple of nosebleed tracks,” laughs Garry, “In fact, we’re probably responsible for half of it. Half of what we do these days has come out of the dissatisfaction with going to a club and hearing it up there for three hours. It’s great if you’re on speed or E’ing off your nuts…otherwise, we want to hear textures and breakdowns and build-ups. I mean, I love that in music. That’s inherently part of music. What you said before about the epic – building up, swelling and dropping down again…”
Oh yeah, what did I say? I said that Accelerator has the epic feel. The only comparison I can make is Steve Erickson’s Tours Of The Black Clock, in the way it traverses space, time and history. From the Amazonian keyboards of Papua New Guinea, the marimba impassioned Yargo-sung While Others Cry, the future sound of Central Industrial to Expander, a cloudburst of acid bleeps and techno gargles. Time will tell, I guess, but timeless… Despite the fact that they’re on everybody’s lips, and that Accelerator will blow each and everyone of you’s minds, Future Sound have reached a crux point; an impasse created by Papua New Guinea’s groundbreaking success.
“We’re setting ourselves up with a hard act to follow,” reasons Garry. “The next track should be just as fuckin’ enlightening. And that’s quite hard. When you set yourselves up to try and be an innovator…we could both end up in an asylum.”
Genius is a career path chosen by the insane – Future Sound are starting early. Future Sound Of London – future sound of everything.
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