Music News

Future Sound of London

Far too many musicians are scared to death of "What the hell?" moments -- those times when a song's sudden shift into unexpected territory leaves listeners puzzled and slack-jawed, for good or ill. In contrast, Gary Cobain and Brian Dougans thrive on such reactions. Since the early '90s, the electro-obsessed mixologists behind Future Sound of London have followed their own peculiar muse without regard to consistency, cohesiveness or common sense -- and thank heaven for that. This latest epic won't thrill everyone; the music may strike some fans as opulent and intriguing, others as merely self-indulgent. But the Futurists' unwillingness to settle for predictability gives Amorphous an undeniable charge.

"Elysian Feels," the initial cut, has the quasi-ambient feel of earlier FSOL masterworks, mating keyboard washes with a shuffling backbeat, guitar noodling and random effects that ebb and flow in a surprisingly organic manner. "Yo-Yo," which follows, takes a different route. The number dives headlong into psychedelia via lyrics about "electric ego" and an atmospheric melody that moves at a spacey pace through a thicket of synthetic dollops, snippets and burbles. Just as trippy are "Goodbye Sky," with its faux brass fanfares and munificent use of echo; the sitar-happy "Maharishi Raga"; and "Theram," which puts drum-and-bass beats in a retro context that drags the past into the present and vice-versa.

Some of the curveballs tossed by Cobain and Dougans slide off the plate -- "The Conga Run," for example, whose guitar solo is tasty in the vapid, smooth-jazz meaning of the term. But better a group try to explore too many musical avenues than putt along the same dead-end street. If given a choice between Otherness and sameness, pick the former.

KEEP WESTWORD FREE... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts