The Future Sound of London – From the Archives Vol. 9 / Archived 9

Quite a lot of Dougans / Cobain tracks have been released under different names, hence the ‘also known as’ section being present on many of my entries. This is the first time an album has been released under two names, though.

Archived 9 brings further treats from the mammoth FSOL archives – this time ranging from early 90s right up to recent times.

17 unreleased tracks woven together to form over 60 mins of mind bending sound experiments.

From light to darkness from forests to deserts

The first rumours of a ninth archive, other than general fan suspicion that the series would never end, came from June 2017’s calendar track ‘Shrinking World‘, which was announced to be from the album. It didn’t end up on the album, which fits in with the typically unconventional manner of spreading news of the record’s impending release. The CD’s on-body design appeared in Ramblings of a Madman Vol. 1, a year before release. Then two ‘outtakes’ from the album, ‘Memories of a Yesterday‘ and ‘Transmission Edit 6‘ then appeared on the 2018 Calendar Album, causing a touch of confusion about how an album of outtakes could have its own outtakes. This was clearly a sign that the From the Archives albums were considered proper albums at this point, rather than the collections of oddities that they started out as. A brief video appeared on YouTube to promote the album, albeit without any material from the album itself (although including some nice footage of the new Spikey model), and seemingly every online store was offering a different release date at one point. It came out earliest on FSOLDigital, as ever.

While none of those calendar tracks appeared on the album, three pieces from the calendars did. I’m not generally in favour of this, considering the From the Archives albums generally to be albums on previously unreleased material that didn’t make it to whatever album was being recorded at the time. If there are tracks that are already released on other albums, they shouldn’t really be on there. I’m also not particularly fond of double-dipping. It’s an incredibly small bone of contention I have with some FSOLDigital releases, in that I don’t really like the same tracks appearing on different albums. Further crossovers come from the vinyl and CD editions featuring different tracks, with five CD exclusives and two vinyl exclusives. Happily, FSOLDigital purchasers receive all tracks digitally, regardless of which physical format is purchased. Unlike on Environment Six Plus, the difference in tracklists is taken a step further, with the second side of the LP featuring a very different running order to the CD edition.

Unusually, one of the calendar tracks, ‘Propagate’, was released the year before as Humanoid, and it has been reissued under the name twice since, making From the Archives Vol. 9 its only appearance as FSOL. Otherwise, the music is all completely unheard, with only ‘Ocea’ being familiar, having been played on the second Touched Music FSOL Night two years prior. There are no known ISDN transmission pieces, and, as with Archived 8, the majority of the tracks are very hard to place. The blurb’s confirmation that some of the pieces are “recent” is welcome, although unnecessary, as there are some blatant Environment Six outtakes on the album; almost everything else, however, sounds like it could have come from the few years prior to the record’s release. Perhaps unsurprisingly, only one track on the album – ‘Osaka Traveller’ – exists in its original form, with every other older piece enhanced at least a little. With the 2016-onward bleepy IDM sound present on many tracks, some heavily textural environments, a track developed concurrently with late ’10s Amorphous sessions, and even the first ‘Views’ track on an archive album, it’s yet another in the series that could pass for a new album should the band have wished to release it as Environment Seven. Brian confirmed that several of the tracks date to the pre-Lifeforms sessions, which is remarkable given how contemporary the album sounds. Atmospherically, it combines some of the cold brutalism of Archived 8 with a touch of Environmental‘s cold starkness, albeit with a number of louder and harsher tracks than those two, adding a more urban sound. Although not as overt as some of the band’s main albums, it makes me think of a future dystopian city: not the modern day collapse of Dead Cities, but something much more sci-fi and oppressive.

Speaking of Dead Cities, that cover. The second release in a row to feature a 1996 cover warped with a toxic yellow-green hue, the wobbly Dead Cities cover with added nu-Spikey led many to wonder whether the album would be focused on 1996 material. This clearly isn’t the case, although there could be material from those sessions in there somewhere. For the first time, the band name appears on the cover but not the title. With the digital version and all promotion calling the album Archived 9, it was quite a surprise to receive a CD called From the Archives Vol. 9 in the post. Even now, the Bandcamp page is listed as Archived 9, with the CD on the same page called From the Archives Vol. 9. I suppose at this point, there’s no point in even being surprised. The booklet has some fitting imagery, including a chopped up version of the Vit and ‘time machine’ image from the Archived 8 booklet, overlaid with the curves, hexagon, Earthbeat, Herd Killing and globules emblems; the disc art on page three, unusually; a mirrored Spikey picture in the centrefold; brutalist concrete structures, once again featuring Spikey, and a grimy looking underground space, with the water damage effect over the top. This last image also forms the back cover, with the EBV, Herd Killing and globules logos beneath the tracklist and credits. Underneath the CD is the bridge image from Dead Cities with the five logos on top. The disc and record labels are a return to the design of the first four volumes, with the full Spikey wireframe image and title, albeit in black. The EBV logo is present. CD-wise, this is the fifth album in a row to feature the same design on the spine, which is a record. Once again, Yage is listed before Buggy in the art credits. The LP edition lists ‘Photographs of an Object’ as track B3, however ‘Propagate’ is actually present on the album.

At one point in my life, lists were incredibly important to me. I had dozens of notepad documents on my computer listing my favourite this, that and the other, mostly music-based. I knew exactly which albums I preferred to which, which artists were my favourites, and in which order they all came. These days, I find it pretty hard to do. It’s probably a mixture of having an overwhelming amount of stuff in my head, but also gradually teaching myself to be more mindful and not compare and continually overthink. Still, if I were pushed, I’d say From the Archives Vol. 9 is probably my favourite Archive release to date. It might not quite have the stylistic consistency of the magnificent Vol. 7, but track-for-track, it’s by far the strongest, and something about the dark, sci-fi kind of atmosphere really appeals, especially in context of the run of more earthy albums that had come before this one. And, as previously mentioned, other than possibly ‘Osaka Traveller’, if this had been released as Environment Seven, nobody would have thought any more of it. Its release actually came almost two years after Environment Six, the longest gap between an Environment and its following Archive, suggesting the early FSOLDigital release structure was finally coming to an end.

Along with the album’s main release, seven test pressings were sold through FSOLDigital, in signed anti-static sleeves, with generic FSOLDigital covers, featuring three logos.

Release date: 27th September 2018.

CD (CD TOT 75) / Digital download
1. Ocea
2. Semi Conscious Participant
3. Silent Midnight
4. Halfer
5. Embodied
6. Super Tide
7. Without You it’s Meaningless
8. Osaka Traveller
9. Slow Moving World
10. Propagate
11. Photographs of an Object
12. A Constantly Changing Mind
13. Confirmation Bias
14. These Days
15. Riverbed
16. Extruded
17. Views of an Empty Sky

LP (LP TOT 75)
A1. Ocea
A2. Semi Conscious Participant
A3. Silent Midnight
A4. Halfer
A5. Embodied
A6. Super Tide
B1. These Days
B2. Slow Moving World
B3. Propagate [listed as Photographs of an Object]
B4. Without You it’s Meaningless
B5. Light
B6. Extruded
B7. Views of an Empty Sky
B8. Plenary

Digital bonus tracks
1. Light
2. Plenary

All tracks written by Brian Dougans / Gaz Cobain.
Produced by FSOL.
Engineered by Yage for EbV 2018.
Mixed at Earthbeat Studios London and 9LW.
‘Views of an Empty Sky’ piano – Daniel Pemberton.
Artwork – Yage / Buggy G Riphead.
3D rendering – Anatomic.
Future Song Publishing.

Purchase from Bandcamp.
Purchase from FSOLDigital.

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