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4.0 out of 5 stars As trippy as ever!, 21 Aug 2012
Much has been written about FSOL's new direction with The Isness but there is enough of their spaced out bleeps and warbles to still be familiar to fans of old. There is however, enough new ground covered to keep us interested and enthralled; if a band is going to stay alive they've got to keep moving forward.

The running order mirrors this progression, album opener The Lovers eases us in being most similar to previous albums. Things soon get psychadelic though as second track The Isness provides us with Terry Riley-esque organs, lush reverborous sitars and distant guitars and cellos; the scene is set. And so FSOL really hit us with their new sound with Mello Hippo Disco Show which features some great vocals.

Here on in we are treated to some brilliant blending of acoustic instrumentation and electronic sounds and nothing sounds out of place. There are some nods toward psychadelic-era Beatles but it is far from a rip off, it's just one small element in a far bigger picture. FSOL are just as trippy as ever.

My advice is to listen to this album on headphones, when I've listened through speakers I've never dug it as much for some reason. The Isness is one of those records to immerse yourself in, it's not one to listen to in passing or to work to. I didn't quite get it at first but then it walloped me in the face but then the best albums are always the growers.

If you can find the limited edition version the packaging is well worth it, not the most important thing I know but it is a thing of beauty.

The Isness should go down well with prog-lovers, Gong fans (there is a Gong sample buried in there somewhere), and anyone who likes Primal Scream, The Orb, Chemical Brothers and Orbital, etc. If you're a fan of the Isness I would also recommend Andrew Taylor's Mohribold album (google it); it's not quite as trippy or bleepy but it's got that deep multi-layered, forever evolving, slightly psychadelic thing happening.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine, unashamed old-school pychedelia, 1 Dec 2013
Greywolf (Wiltshire, UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
As an unreconstructed Hippy old enough to have been around for the first wave of Psychedelic music in the late '60s, I'm a sucker for aural excursions aimed at sweeping the spirit along on multi-coloured clouds of sitars, tambouras, tabla drums, flutes, Farfisa organs, Mellotrons, swirling strings and subtle guitars. They're all here on this 2002 recording and sounding every bit as magical as they did during 1967's glorious and inspiring Summer of Love. Now, as then, this kind of music is designed to encourage inner journeying, meditation, waking dreaming, reverie ... OK, the short version is, it's really trippy. It even includes samples from the BBC's late lamented Radiophonic Workshop, best known for giving us the original Dr Who theme. In other words, it ticks just about every psychedelic box there is.
There are musical references throughout this album to The Beatles circa 66-67, especially George and John's aural experiments on Revolver, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band and the Yellow Submarine Soundtrack, to The Stone's of We Love You and Their Satanic Majesties Request, to The Byrds' Eight Miles High and Mr. Spaceman era, and to Donovan circa 65-68, when he produced such gems as Sunshine Superman and Mellow Yellow, among others. Donovan provides a suitably strange and flower-bedecked introduction to the CD booklet, which is full of appropriately tripped-out illustrations as well as the usual who-plays-what and the lyrics for the few tracks that have lyrics, most being instrumental.
The Isness stands up well alongside the albums referenced above and other psychedelic classics such as Terry Riley's Rainbow in Curved Air, Jefferson Airplane's After Bathing At Baxter's or Traffic's Mr. Fantasy. It's gorgeous, mysterious, magical, wonderful, lovely stuff. To revert to 60s idiom, it's "Far out, man." And that's a good thing ... a very good thing ...
PS. Apparently, you can't have more than 10 links in a review, so you'll have to look up the last two albums mentioned yourself. Believe me, it's well worth it. Peace'n'love ...
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