FACELESS: Faceless (on Mutant Sound System, 67 Irving Place S, 3rd Floor, NYC, NY 10003 USA).
Funky dub music with a mellow trip hop edge. Various tasty E-perc patterns interweave with snappy bass tones, soft keyboard rushes and more keyboards: swooping, pulsing and shimmering away on this 58 minute CD. The gently haunting melodies are quite lively trances, enjoyably rhythmic and impressively funky in a comfortable mode.
MARIANNE FAITHFUL: A Secret Life (CD on Island Records in USA).
Quite a team-up here: Marianne Faithful and Angelo Badalamenti. The result is densely moody gothic soft rock. Lots of orchestral strings and spooky atmosphere. Faithful's lyrical sense is as twisted as ever. Alas, the album is flawed by it's paltry 37 minute length.
FARFLUNG: So Many Minds, So Little Time (CD on Purple Pyramid Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
Imagine...interplay of acoustic and electric guitar shimmering like a 1972 Hawkwind live outburst. Enter bass and drums, thick with the flair of ancient Pink Floyd. Douse it all with a sonic attack of synthesizers sparkling like a savage astral champagne. Sit back and the raw trance will rise about you like a hungry tide until you are completely and comfortably immersed. The ricochet tempo will fill your mouth, the touch of Gong will creep in through your nostrils. The richly mediated whole is ever so vastly more powerful than the contributing pieces, a blend that goes beyond comparisons to an exploding nova of furious audible matter. The presence of some vocals only adds to the tribal space music celebration.
Ah, among Farflung's four members we find Tommy Grenas (and two special guests) from Pressurehed. Well, that explains the sound. It's amazing how Farflung manage to maintain a raw edge amidst the slick mix. Nine cosmic excursions in 71 minutes, one of them being a tight little cover of Can's classic "Future Days" song. Very very recommended.
FAUST: Edinburgh 1997 (CD on Klangbad Records in Germany).
Very tasty live recording from the Flux New Music Festival, whereat Faust were in prime form with electro psychedelia and spacey guitar and grinding noises and percussion both sinuous and chaotic, with even a touch of violin, sax and flute thrown in. Very melodic pieces flow from trance atmospherics to pulsating dirges to angry rock.
A superb and satisfying release.
FAUST: Faust Wakes Nosferatu (CD on Klangbad Records in Germany).
Atonal and grating, this soundscape functions as a dark abrasive ambient soundtrack for the F. W. Murnau silent film classic. The barely melodic music is made up of growling klang guitar, hoarse drumming, vicious electronics of a feedback nature. The release shares in Faust sensibilities, but not their fire, although it does feature a nicely rhythmic finale reminiscent of soft rock jams with trance overtones.
FAUST: Rein (CD on Table of Elements Records in USA).
A new Faust album--not old tapes--not live--new in studio brilliant Faust! A Faust of a different color too. They were always intense, but this time the medium is harsh electronic walls of teeth. It may well scar you with its sharp delivery and agro sensibilities. Very tasty, very weird (the album's liner notes can only be found as the last track on the CD--clever, huh?).
BRYAN FERRY: Mamouna (CD on Virgin Records in USA).
There's been much hype about Ferry working on this album with his old Roxy Music cronies (Eno, Manzanera and MacKay); the type of hype that elicits suspicion that they feel compelled to shout about it rather than let it speak for itself. So, forget the hype and know that the music certainly can hold its own. This time Ferry has a winner album, one that drips of cool sultry rock influences. As for Enossification: he "influences" 8 of the 10 songs.
FETISCH PARK: Alluvial (CD on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston, 3072 Victoria, Australia).
This 64 minute CD begins with music of a very deviant nature: dark electronics and grinding beats crushed into frantic sonics of deep weirdness and haunting rhythms. Utilizing the off duty songs of the prostitutes of Bangkok, Fetish Park thread a blend of industrial, metallics and collage effects that almost strays into pop territory. The music takes a subdued turn somewhere along the way, reducing the in-your-face quality to a dense ambience while retaining moody percussive-lush melodies that seethe and sparkle.
Note the guest presence of additional percussion on one track by Jaki Liebezeit (from Can).
FETISCH PARK: Trost (CD on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston 3072 Victoria, Australia).
An investigation into sonic research and mood construction, this is industrial atmospherics on the crunchy side. Mechanoid insects gnaw at the periphery of growling tones and grinding distant metallics, and then dinosaurs scream, scattering the insectoid horde.
For all its basic atonality, this 72 minute CD has some scalding moments of intensity. There's even a passage that is passionately erotic. All in all, Fetish Park are fairly versatile for ambient industrial, delivering overt, passive, brooding, angry and ecstatic moods.
Yet another aspect of Fetisch Park comes out on their 34 minute "Sporen/Binumb" CD EP (also on Extreme Records). This time the sonic research is applied to a rhythmic sense producing an interesting brand of techno rooted in harsh sounds and abstract structure.
FFWD: FFWD (CD on InterModo/Discipline Records in UK).
That's Fripp, Fehlmann, Weston, Dr. Paterson (Fehlmann and Weston being two key players in the Orb, Paterson being the head Orb), and we all know who Robert Fripp is.
Alas, with all these high-power sonic figureheads, FFWD tends to fall short. It's certainly abundant with all the elements that have made the Orb such a huge success (drifting electronics and interlocking sampled threads), but the music lacks the juicy hooks that sustained the listener's attention. Not to say the album doesn't contain some kickers--there are some purely ecstatic moments--but they are in a minority, spaced throughout the ambience. Fripp's presence is assuredly heard, but mostly in a softer sense.
THE FIRE THIS TIME: Still Dancing on John Wayne's Head (import CD on Extreme Records, PO Box 147, Preston 3072, Victoria, Australia).
Take hard dub and ethnic World Beat and fuse them, peppered with strong political activists (like Black Panther in political exile in Cuba Assata Shakur, Chuck D from Public Enemy, black radical Angela Davis, and former chairperson of the American Indian Movement John Trudell) providing vocal tracks. Now put those songs in the hands of mixologists like Adrian Sherwood, Asian Dub Foundation, Mad Professor, Michael Franti (from Spearhead), and Special Projects.
Compelling and full of dynamic hypnotic rhythms, this 58 minute CD is a radical blend of hiphop and politics and forest chants.
FISH DRUM: Secret Archives of the Vatican (cassette tape on Audiofile Tapes, 209-25 18 Ave., Bayside, NY 11360, USA).
Fish Drum is the brainchild of British musician Vince Millett. This 60 minute tape contains some very dark instrumental pieces wrought with a playful sense of composition and a modern rage twist. You get strong percussives. You get sinuous electronics. You get searing fusion-grind guitar, every bit as exciting as Terje Rypdal. You get a blinding display of multi-instrumentality: sitar, flute and even chamberlain.
TODD FLETCHER: Star (CD on Arya Records in Italy).
Particularly entrancing ambient music: soft keyboards and shimmering ethereal tones drift gleaming in a calm void with the introduction of soft percussives in later tracks on this 56 minute CD.
FOETUS: Gash (CD on Columbia Records in USA).
Intense madman percussion, grinding guitar from hell, raspy growl vocals--it can only be FOETUS (aka J.G.Thirlwell, Clint Ruin) striking out with a full length (63 minutes) album, believe it or not on Columbia Records. Oh yeah, here's a diseased fly in Columbia's ointment, insanely kicking its little insect legs, stirring up all kinds of sonic trouble.
Oh, the music is solid oppression--kick-crotch rock'n'roll with a massive feel (bigger than the moon) looming walls of rhythmic intimidation. Big pay off after my anticipation was sparked by the FOETUS EP "Null."
FOETUS: Null (CD EP on Columbia Records in USA).
J.G.Thirlwell (aka Foetus, aka Clint Ruin) delivers a deathgrip of vengeance aimed at your soft pelvis with this EP. Violent, in your face, totally unrestrained fast electric chair rock. Unbelievably waiting guitar, overwhelming percussion, an electronic wall of teeth and vocals growled through a throat of seething lava.
FOREVER EINSTEIN: Artifical Horizon (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
Forever Einstein is a trio comprised of John Roulat, Marc Sichel and C. W. Vrtacek (who some may recall for his solo releases on Recommended Records in UK), playing fanciful, instrumental rockjazz bordering on new age (without the trance aspect), yet the music has a strong dance quality to it. The instruments interplay in a robust manner: steadily intricate guitar strains (of an amplified acoustic nature), durable bass groundwork, grinding keyboards and complex drumming. These insistent melodies are uptempo in a relentless way. The music does not grab you overtly; you find your body following its lead before your brain notices it has fallen victim to Forever Einstein's appealing brand of music. Quite like their namesake, this band breaks new sonic ground with each song.
FOREVER EINSTEIN: One Thing After Another (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
This three-piece band (intricate guitar, solid bass and unpredictable drums) belts out dynamic instrumental songs that are drenched with playful humor and clever rhythms. Imagine 57 minutes of surf music as if done by King Crimson (circa "Lark's Tongues in Aspic"), just replace Fripp's guitar growl with a taste of twang.
JOHN FOXX: Cathedrals (UK import on Metamatic Records).
Some may recall Foxx as Ultravox's original vocalist, who went solo in the late Seventies to pursue a synth-pop career. He has been inactive (as far as I know) since the mid Eighties, making this 1995 release of particular interest. What's he up to now?
Well, this CD is quite different, being exacting ambient music of the strictly minimal variety. Slow drift monotones with quasi-religious overtones via soft breezes of sampled choir. Thoroughly uneventful without climax or tempo. One can consider this music "lovely."
JOHN FOXX/LOUIS GORDON: Shifting City (UK import on Metamatic Records).
This other release from 1995 bears more of a kinship to Foxx's old music when he was pioneering the synth-pop genre. Sadly, this music bears too much of a similarity to that old stuff. It's modern Drum & Bass stuff to sedate tempos with vocoder vocals.
If you dig Foxx's old synth-pop, you'll enjoy more of the same, but don't expect to hear any growth.
ROBERT FRIPP: 1999 (Soundscapes Live in Argentina) (CD on Discipline Records in USA).
Surprise--one man,.one guitar...lots of machinery...a wall of tasty and invigorating sound! If you're listening for angry and loud, you need to go elsewhere, for "1999" is mainly atmospheric and drifting...well, drifting until you find yourself surrounded by soft and furious notes of particular intensity. The instrument may be a guitar, but the sounds are far from what you'd expect from any simple string instrument (no matter how filtered and treated)--high weirdness! This ambience is rich with life and emotion.
And oh--how complex it all becomes--definitely hard to believe that the man could do it all live with no overdubs...but that's what makes Frlpp so special. it's good to nave him back in his prime.
ROBERT FRIPP: Radiophonics (1995 Soundscapes Volume 2: Live in Argentina) (CD on Discipline Records in USA).
After a long stretch of technically studious but emotionally dull releases, Fripp's "1999" album really impressed me. This return to greatness is continued on the "Radiophonics" album, again live in South America.
If you're looking for pep or swing, go elsewhere. This 57 minute CD features an atmospheric dose of dreamy guitar (mainly Frippertronics and effects, meaning you will find it difficult to believe the sounds originate from a single live guitar, but they do). Far from atonal wanderings, this music is hypnotic with grand tone sweeps and counterpoint crystalline textures. Some moments on this album are directly ominous with intensity.
A sonic triumph. This is highly recommended.
PETER FROHMADER: Macrocosm (CD on Cuneiform Records, PO Box 8427, Silver Spring, MD 20907 USA).
The music is dark-not evil, just rich with ominous drama. The moody trance experience quickly develops into a frenzy of electronic rhythms: synthesizer tones that vibrate into sharp but easy going percussives; dainty keyboards with a symphonic edge. Far from inactive and ambient, the music is alive with the snarl of percussions-rapid, sweet and quasi-mechanical. His melodies are extremely spacey, with a recurrent American Indian flair to the cosmic rhythms.
MITCHELL FROOM: Dopamine (CD on Atlantic Records).
The copy I got of this sported a sticker on the cover, claiming it was the debut CD from popular rock producer Froom. Oh? I picked up this CD because I so much enjoyed Froom's "The Key of Cool" album from the Eighties, and his "Slam Dance" soundtrack release. Alas, it seems as if Froom's days as a producer have watered down his earlier sharp wit and sonic edge into a modern sound easier tolerated from the middle of the road. Another downside: the CD is only 31 minutes long.
But...if you go for a mixture of raucous and sultry rock with loads of featured guests (like Sheryl Crow, Miho Hatori, Lisa Germano, and wife Suzanne Vega), music that captured a bar room piano flair with a Bob Fosse finger-snapping strut--then you've found the disc.
FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY: Corroded Disorder (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
This is a collected reissue of a pair of FLA's early LPs ("Disorder" and "Corrosion"), slick industrial agro in a formative stage, full of electro-life and E-perc aggression. Add a dash of sampled vocal bits in the midst of harsh vocals and you have it in your face. Watch out--it might hurt. This music is deadly and earnest with its vicious attitude. FLA has refined its sound over the years, but there's a passion to this early material that remains unique in the industrial genre.
Note: years ago, another label reissued this pair of LPs on CD, and while they added a few bonus tracks, they deleted some of the LP tracks. Well, the Cleopatra version replaces those missing tracks and keeps the bonus ones too --totalling 79 minutes now. Throw in a Dave McKean package design for full front line effect.
FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY: Hard Wired (CD on Metropolis Records, PO Box 54307, Phila., PA 19105).
Industrial dance music doesn't come much slicker than FLA, and this album shines with a blazing fury. Attack techno shots of growling electronics and nests of E-perc and harsh vocals. Leeb and Fulber added guitar to their sound with their last album, but it's on "Hard Wired" that they truly master the involvement of guitar with their wall of thrashing sound. Dynamite, breathtaking music abounds on this album, with some familiar melodies as FLA mutate a few older songs with their very tasty evolved sound.
Also highly recommended is FLA's "Circuitry" CD EP (there are two of them). The easier to find digipak one features remixes by Geir Jennsen (aka Biosphere) and Haujobb. Also included is a CD ROM track.
Comics fans will rejoice over "Hard Wired"'s grisly cover art by Dave McKean.
FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY: Live Wired (double CD on Metropolis Records, PO Box 54307, Phila., PA 19105).
By now, you should be quite familiar with FLA's brutal industrial music. You know: the savage electronics, tortured guitar, frenzied percussion, growling vocals, and then Some more vicious electronics.
This live release is quite tasty. Real drums add a thunder to the already thick sound and the live versions of the band's classics are generously weird and faithful at the same time. The intensity factor is simply off the scale with this 110 minute release.
FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY: Millenium (CD on Roadrunner Records in USA).
Dynamic stuff from the masters of hyper rhythmics. This time the addition of savage attack guitars gives the music a curious garage edge --frantic and snarling. Hard percussions and in your face lyrics. Imagine FLA stomping around in Ministry's backyard with chain saws. Cool cover art by Dave McKean on the album and the "Millenium" CD EP (also on Roadrunner Records).
FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY: Plasticity (CD EP on Metropolis Records, PO Box 54307, Phila., PA 19105).
Hard edge industrial dance, this 19 minute EP consists of two non-LP tracks and a decently deviant remix of the title track by Haujobb. The downside is that the songs is too similar again to older material, specifically songs from FLA's "Tactical Neural Implant" album from 1992.
Very interesting, but no new ground here.
FRONTLINE ASSEMBLY: State of Mind (CD on Cleopatra Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
This reissue CD is very early FLA, featuring their industrial attack sound in a formative stage. All the elements that have gained the band international renown are present; only the pace has changed. This material is less frenzied than FLA's current music. There are even pensive instrumental pieces, moody without being overly atmospheric. But the predominant mode is hardedged electro rhythms and hyperspeed snickering keyboards behind growled vocals of malignant resistance.
This 62 minute CD sports a bonus track, "Inside Out", previously available only on an old and drastically obscure European collection release. For the data junkies: this track dates from 1991 while the rest of the material is from 1988.
FRONT LINE ASSEMBLY: Surface Patterns (CD EP on Roadrunner Records in USA).
The second EP from FLA's "Millenium" LP. Not exactly an exciting choice from the album, but it has all the necessary elements: hard driving frenzy, industrial dance kick with a strong dash of Ministry agro. You get three versions of "Surface Patterns" and one non-LP track, a total of 23 minutes of savage sonics.
THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON: Cascades (EP CD)
THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON: Lifeforms (EP CD)
(Both on Astralwerks in the USA).
Both of these CD EPs are from FSOL's "Lifeforms" double CD album. The first one "Liifeforms" features 39 minutes worth of dynamic electronic delicacies with strong front beat and catchy rhythmics. Add to the music the unearthly vocal effects (not to be found on the album, special only on this EP) of Elizabeth Fraser (from Cocteau Twins) and you have a thoroughly gripping listen. The drama doesn't diminish with repeated listening either. Believe me, I've put this one to that test and I'm still wearing out the disc. Damn--this EP is better than the whole album! The second EP, "Cascade", is more mellow, with 35 minutes of dreamier rhythmics that sneak around on the edges of your attention.
FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON: Dead Cities (CD on Astralwerks Records in USA).
This latest album by these trance masters takes a decidedly unexpected turn into ethnic turf blended with atonal ambience as the melodies unfold. True--there are frequent outbursts of strong tuneage and overt weirdness, but the general strength of this 70 minute release lies in the music's subdued majesty.
There exists a deluxe edition of this CD (a UK import on Virgin Records) that comes in a slipcase with a glorious book full of the band's incredible computer enhanced alien imagery.
And on the side, there's the "My Kingdom" CD EP (on Astralwerks in the USA) which features half an hour of expanded takes on what is definitely the album's most memorable tune.
Further on the side is the "We Have Explosives" CD EP (also on Astralwerks) which features 48 minutes of remixes of this highly twisted peppy tune.
THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON: Farout Son of Lung and the Ramblings of a Madman" (CD EP on Virgin Records in UK).
FSOL alter their previous ambient sound, injecting some hyped up funk and twisted pop. More upfront percussion (of all sorts) and thunderous bass join the sea of electronic weirdness, even a dash of wild jazz sax. But--for all the evolution--it's still undeniably FSOL--and undeniably awesome! One of the tracks, "Snake Hips", is a remarkable 9 minute excursion into interweaving percussive rhythmatics and wobbly, tortured guitar noise. (Note: the tracks on this CD EP were included on the USA release of FSOL's "ISDN" CD.)
FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON: Life Forms (double CD on Astralwerks in USA).
This is an outstanding double dose of an ambient techno sound. Still melodic, just softer than most rapid-tempo techno. The music also features contributions by Robert Fripp, Ozric Tentacles, and Toni Halliday (from Curve).
THE FUTURE SOUND OF LONDON: Papau New Guinea (CD EP on Hypnotic Records, 13428 Maxella Ave, Suite 251, Marina Del Rey, CA 90292 USA).
This EP came out in the UK years ago, so why should you care about this USA reissue? Oh, there are so many reasons...
The original release of this EP has been quite difficult to find for some time, while the UK edition that CAN be found sports only four of the original eight tracks. But this reissue on Hypnotic contains all eight tracks.
Hypnotic (and their parent company Cleopatra Records) have been releasing a good number of their CDs with those cool flicker picture covers, but the one on this FSOL EP is truly amazing! It's a superb six level movement that rotates a dark monolith hovering above a red ocean with accompanying moving reflection in the crimson water. This cover alone is worth the price of the CD.
It doesn't hurt that FSOL's music is topnotch electronic trance with a strong injection of pep. This song comes from their debut album, "Accelerator" (which is also available domestically now on Hypnotic), so it prominently displays this uptempo quality even through the often dense remixes.
Highly recommended, even if you already have the original edition.
Return to Sonic Curiosity Home Page