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The Future Sound of London - Rituals (e7.001)


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Download, CD and further LPs from Bandcamp on Friday.

The album's really good. Not what I was expecting, it's pretty different to the Calendar albums and things they've been putting out since E6/6.5/Environmental. It's more like a cross between that trilogy and ISDN, if anything.

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8 hours ago, nature said:

So this will be available digitally? I really hope so.

Yep in about a week's time from fsoldigital with a few bonus tracks ?

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On 4/26/2022 at 11:47 AM, Rubin Farr said:

I’m wondering how much Gaz is actually involved in any non Amorphous releases these days.

Haha, welcome to every other discussion on the FSOLBoard these days.

I think the first track on this album is confirmation that Gaz is definitely still part of FSOL. That's all I'll say on the matter.

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Struggling with some pretty severe post-Covid shit at the moment so I won't be updating my blog anytime soon, but these were my first thoughts on listening to the album:

Hopiate - Opens with Lifeforms-era samples. Piano, synths, rich and beautiful opening atmospherics, big bass line comes in - this is the track that was on Alan's mix a couple of years ago. Really energetic, uplifting, a wonderful way to open the album. Strings and guitars. Would be surprised if this wasn't a Gaz-heavy track. The '93/'94 sounds are a bit strange, I don't think I've heard '90s elements used so heavily in a new piece before. 
"You're not going to kill me". Slowed down voice sample, very '90s FSOL too.

Triple Circles - Tinny drum machine, background atmospherics. Choir like synth pads, twinkly melodies come in in the second half, then dark, heavy bass. Beats alternate between a slow, hip-hoppish groove and faster, more skittery rhythms. Very much in line with the style of recent tracks, could probably pass for Humanoid. Thick, heavily compressed mix. A good example of the style.

Somewhere Outside - Light, clattery ethnic percussion, acoustic guitar arpeggios and loops, chopped and pieced together. Guitar probably recoded at the same time as 'Sense of Being'. Becomes pretty glitched and mangled as it goes on. A brief environment.

Ritualised - As expected, this is 'Rituals' from the last year's Touched mix. Very, very glad this is here, love this track. Really reminds me of a more ethereal version of 1995 track 'Cow'. The violin in the second half is beautiful, and it contrasts wonderfully with the raw, chunky beats. Fades into field recordings...

Time Cone - ...which continue here. Minor key synth arps, an odd churning lo-fi rhythmic loop. A hint of Brian's more hauntological projects and even a touch of Zeebox in the rhythm. Fades out to wind sounds, then some synths which are from, I think, an E6-era track, but I can't place them. That or they're similar! Nice to get a closing environment within an index again! Closes with a voice asking "what do you feel?"

Solar Signals - Eerie opening sounds, reversed breathy synths/filtered voice samples. Back into more IDM territory again, dark atmospherics, drum machine beats, bleepy melodies. There's a lot of texture in here, though, rather than some of the more minimal sounding tracks we've had on calendar albums and so on. 

Sand to Ocean - Fittingly opens with seashore field recordings, waves and gull cries. Suddenly it's into fast IDM territory again, but with a big, almost sentimental sounding melody. The synths here actually remind me of some late '90s Eurotrance thing, more than a touch of Chicane to it. Beats are all over the place, never solidifying into a groove but being more textural. I am a massive romantic wanker at heart and this ticks all the boxes for me. Cheesy but beautiful.

Far Seeker - Slow breaks, more hip-hoppish territory again. Not the direction I envisaged FSOL taking at this point, but it works. Dark but emotive melodic synth stuff, distorted 303 lines coming in during the second half. A quick break for metallic percussion - xylophones? - and back into the beats again.

Slowly Slipped Away - This is 'Rain Forest', the synth and flute track from Mind Maps. The album's second ambient piece! A really beautiful track, and I'm glad it's got a home on a 'proper' album. Closes on sung female vocal samples.

Visibility Accumulation - Drum machine that sounds like it's falling apart. Thick, noisy synths, layers of crumbly fuzz. God, this doesn't sound remotely like any other FSOL material. Reminds me of that track from Autechre's Plus with the 808 in it. 

I Am Error - If you'd asked me to guess what this track would be like, I wouldn't have said a minute of ambience based around snakey flute loops followed by distorted hip-hop drums and deep, booming bass.

Colour Primary - Detuned, BoC-like synths, some samples and field recordings that are familiar from the past but I can't remember when, gurgling sounds and other textural noises. Slightly child-like melody that acts as a nice respite from the rather heavy going bunch of tracks preceding it.

Time Passed the Sun - More slow drum loops, backwards acoustic guitars, field recordings, layers of thick synth pads. Flute melodies and tabla loops give it a slightly more ethnic/world feel in the second half. Something about it really reminds me of The Day the Poles Shifted from 6.5, might be the combination of the flute, bass and tempo, but it's got that feeling. "As for you, as for you..."

Ebb Flow - Lo-fi piano loops and improvisation. I wonder if this is a Pemberton collab? The first modern classical-leaning piece on the album and a stylistic link to the earlier Environments volumes.

Avoiding Mirrors - Clattering, skittery beats, starts quite minimal and repetitive but pads come in and open the sound stage right up. Flute samples bring it back to the ethnic vibe of the album at the end.

Clone A9 - Twinkly IDM, synth arpeggios and glitchy drum machines, the usual suspects, but with some lo-fi beats and a growling bass sound that give it a much rougher feel than the 6/6.5 material in this style.

Only in Memories - Rainfall. Synth melodies and drum loops fed through some weird filters. Gives the impression of gradually being flushed down a plughole. Very, very strange and a typically odd way to close the album. Quiet field recordings fade to end.


My first reaction to this, bizarrely, is immediately hearing a lot of the other recent material in a different context. I was a touch worried that it might be as stripped back and cold as a lot of the Calendar tracks, but that's not even remotely the case here. The more IDMish tracks feel like they've combined that recent direction with the crumbly textures and field recording layers of Environmental and Views and the rich melodies of the earlier Environments series. With things like Calendar albums, it feels like we've been allowed a look into the creative process behind the sessions for this album, hearing tracks that didn't fit the mood or style of the record and one-off experiments, rather than an actual signifier of where FSOL was heading next. Tracks like 'Zen Jenny' and 'Alertions' have as much to do with the sound of Rituals as 'Mango Tree' and 'Skinny Ribber Fucker' have to do with the sound of Dead Cities.

I was honestly expecting the album to be an extension of the more Humanoid-leaning fast IDM sound of a lot of recent tracks, so the number of slower tracks mixed in with those was a nice surprise. I know there's been a touch of sameyness to some recent releases that has worried a few people, but this does - thankfully - feel like a real step forward. It doesn't sound like any previous FSOL record, especially on tracks like Visibility Accumulation. If I had to compare it to a past album, I'd say it's closest to ISDN, definitely sharing some of the album's rawness and dark atmosphere. Rituals is a very good title as there's a certain 'primitive', almost tribal feel to it. If I had to place it in a 'world' on first listen, I'd say the working title of 'Slowly Slipped Away' is perfect: Rain Forest. A journey through a dense and very unfriendly jungle. 

Overall, a real growth from the previous albums and a superb record in its own right. I would say it's possibly the closest to '90s FSOL of all the new material (ie Envi 4 onwards), whilst sounding completely new and fresh at the same time.

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Listened twice so far, I agree with @purlieuthat since Ev 6/6.5 everything has sounded somewhat samey, all the calendar releases, “music from” albums, mind maps, etc. I couldn’t tell a lot of them apart. Maybe Brian has settled into a studio setup he doesn’t want to change, if it ain’t broke. Still some of the best ambient chill around, and the RSD versions releases are always a highlight. Hopefully they can squash whatever is going  on between them.

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The slow, chuggy feel to this is definitely pretty different to most of the recent stuff which I'm happy about. There's a stylistic similarity to a lot of the recent stuff, both Humanoid and FSOL, which definitely isn't something I associate with FSOL - Dead Cities has to be one of the most varied albums of its kind - so the fact that Rituals has a few more styles to it is a big plus here.

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