The Future Sound Of London – Dead Cities (Virgin)
This is obviously an amazing record to start off my Random Vinyl of the Week adventure, as I dig through my dusty archives. Released in 1996, Dead Cities was Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans’ fourth full length album as The Future Sound of London. Dead Cities was that very last record and then there was a torturing silence for six years. Even when the duo returned in 2002 with The Isness, it was … not the same… How can one describe the layered dark samples with memorable vocal lines that are implanted in my brain? “I have killed a man. A man who looked like me.” The album is an absolute classic, and its complex ambient and cinematic fragments continue to offer new insight into the minds of FSOL.
Dead Cities was not received with as much success as my absolute favorite, earlier 1994 release Lifeforms [the latter climbed to 6 position on the UK Album Charts, while Dead Cities got up to 22]. The music of Dead Cities features more sampled beats carefully blending in big-beat and bringing trip-hop into the mix. We Have Explosive (which also came out as a single) features several samples from Run DMC‘s album Tougher Than Leather. The rest of the sounds [all very dear and familiar to my mind at this point] all convey the atmosphere of urban decay. An album from the future that rusted in the past. Like a empty feeling after watching a rerun of Blade Runner [and the sample off Mary Hopkin‘s vocals from the movie’s soundtrack], the eerie nostalgia of revisiting a dirty old friend crackles in the hindsight. Oh, and how’s this for a shocker for you. On one of the tracks guess who’s playing piano? I’ll give you a hint. The title of the track is Max and the pianist’s last name is Richter. In addition to restructured MIDI files, Max Richter has also contributed other recordings and “environments”.
The album cover (and the two inserts that house the double vinyl) feature 3D graphics and digitally processed photography by Buggy G. Riphead. This is one of the albums to hold in your hands and marvel at its grandiose and epic stand in time. Since 2007, FSOL has opened up their vault and released a collection of forgotten tracks from their library, titled From The Archives (it is now up to its 5th volume). I hope I have excited you enough to revisit Dead Cities through my first adventure of Random Vinyl of the Week. I know that I have worked myself up enough to seek out the limited box set release [complete with a booklet!!!], and am now waiting for it to arrive in the mail!
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Tags: dark ambient, downtempo, electronica