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- From The Archives – Vol.7 by The Future Sound Of London
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9/10 Ross Baker Customer review, 27th September 2014
Not many bands could get away with releasing seven albums of 'archived' material. Not many bands would have enough material to do so. I suppose this makes FSOL the "electronic Guided by Voices" or something. Unsurprisingly, the series has been met with some skepticism (of the "if this was so good, why didn't you release it in the first place?" variety) and rightly so in some cases. The first three volumes in particular contained their fair share of short sketches and tracks which appeared to be little more than a drum loop for five minutes (I'm looking at you, 'Neuro Device Send'.)
Still, never let it be said that Dougans and Cobain are deaf to criticism. From Archive 4 onwards, the series has been increasingly tighter, and on this volume they've finally achieved the almost unimaginable: an archive collection as good as their main studio albums. The collection eschews alternative mixes and familiar sounds (other than 'War Machines', familiar from the group's 1996 ISDN shows) in favour of a run of entirely unheard tracks. Titles like 'Shifting Sands' and 'Heat Distortions' sum up the mood for the most part here - hot, sweaty, percussive pieces that lean on the band's more exotic side (as opposed to their moody, melodic Environments series.) Temple bells call to prayer, deep basslines lollop, Neotropic's Riz Maslen does her best Lisa Gerrard impression, woozy synths push and pull the ears and everything comes together to form a disorienting trip. It's perfect for the listener after another dose of the otherworldly sounds of the group's '90s exploits.
It's a great time to be a fan of FSOL - not only are they forging ahead with a whole new sound on their Environments albums, but they're keeping us in touch with their 'classic' sound with the Archives series. The album art even features the Electronic Brain and the Witch Girl models, like on Lifeforms and Dead Cities. It's 1996 again. Hooray! If we're lucky, they'll continue to volume eight and beyond, as there are still hours of known archived material left, let alone the unknown stuff.
In short: magnificent.
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