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This was released in the UK under the pseudonym Amorphous Androgynous, and as the better-known Future Sound of London in the US. Whatever they call themselves, after creating two of the most spectacular works of electronic composition, in "Lifeforms" and "Dead Cities", in the mid 90s, they earned the right to take it easy and do whatever the hell they like. On "The Isness" that's exactly what they do. Their fancy here is for re-interpreting the hippy psychedelia of the late 60s. Their take on it is shamelessy indulgent, creating tentacled monsters of flowery over-production. Sprawling cathedrals of trippiness like "Galaxial Pharmaceutical", and the daft Walrus-era Beatles silliness of "The Mello Hippo Disco Show", are mostly a tongue in cheek lark-about, but why not.
Underneath the tripped out haze of sitars and floral shirts it's recognisably FSOL, as their sampling and arrangement skills are top-notch. (Although they should probably stick to synths and samplers, some cringeingly flat singing mars two or three of the tracks) The hundred-layered textures they build from samples and loops of exotic acoustic instruments are undeniably ornate and pretty, but there's something missing - its sonic gluttony leaves you bloated.
August 9, 2004