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6th and hopefully not final Archive!,
This review is from: From The Archives Volume 6 (Audio CD)
The Future Sound of London's 'From The Archives' series proved a controversial set of releases initially, with the first three volumes being over-stuffed with tracks and having little cohesion over their often 70 minute+ run times. Dougans and Cobain seemed to be paying attention, and over the following two volumes, the series became more streamlined, with shorter run times and seguing tracks. After a two year wait, the band return with From The Archives Vol. 6 - and they have continued this trend.
Without a second of silence from start to finish, Vol. 6 flows from track to track with the band's trademark atmospheres and 'environments', playing out like a traditional FSOL record. This time, short ambient interlude tracks, reminiscent of material on the recent Environments series, also feature, removing all traces of the scattershot nature of the early volumes in the process. The album also feels chronological, with opening tracks such as 'March of the Money Men', 'Coastline' and 'Cross Winds' accurately charting their acid-tinged techno of the early '90s, and Lifeforms outtake 'Light Forming' sitting comfortably alongside. Things get stranger and more fragmented as the album progresses, with the unsettling sound experiment 'Protractor' and the Tangerine-Dream-put-through-a-blender chaos of 'Induced Coma' representing their mid-to-late '90s work. The album's mid-section sees two of the most worthy pieces from the entire Archives series, the stunningly beautiful ambient epic 'Then Departed', and the jarringly funky 'Jelly Legs'.
Despite the strong body of work and cohesive nature of the record, the album does have a couple of flaws. 'She Fell Backwards' - former fan favourite of working title 'Stark Tower' - appears here in an inexplicable edit, cutting the six minute piece down to less than three; with most tracks around the three minute mark it becomes evident that some other tracks have been edited, too. The baffling inclusion of 'Swarm' - merely an alternative mix of Archive 4 track 'Absent With Concept' - equally seems a waste, given the amount of still unreleased material in the band's backlog.
From the Archives Volume 6 is probably not quite as excellent as its immediate predecessor, Vol. 5, but it is for the most part a strong work with some particular stand-out tracks, and is definitely a worthwhile listen to any fans of The Future Sound of London. With an array of material still unreleased, perhaps we'll see a seventh volume released in the future, and this should tide everyone over more than comfortably until then.