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4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
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on 16 May 2001
After listening to a previous Future Sound of London CD, and hearing them on many hypnotic video's I felt compelled to search for a CD for myself. What a CD!! The whole compelation has been put together as if sown by hand, its offers through out a continual journey into ambient extacy. It must rate for me, in the top five of all time CD's. Though not a CD for wild parties, a must for anyone who likes to relax. Enjoy.
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on 23 March 2001
I bought this album when it first came out in 94,95. And after listening to it for almost 6 years I am still unsure under which music style to classify it, be it ambient, prog dance etc. One thing I can tell you though!!!, is that it is quite possible one of the most mezmorising albums i have ever heard in my whole life. Listen to this album at night when the house is quiet and all the lights are off and it will transport you away from all the troubles and pressures of ordinary life to a place of beauty and relaxation. I have spent alot of time listening to this album whilst driving my car at night and that is an experience I can only describe as Mezmorising. This album changed my life, let it change yours!!!!!.
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on 18 October 2003
Sometimes an album is made and it captures the very essence of magic. Lifeforms is one of the best examples of such a piece of music. This is electronic music, but not dance orientated. It's the kind of cd you put on when you want to explore the confines of your own head. Darkly introspective and challenging, it wont be the prefered choice of Ibiza leaning clubbers. It's far too intelligent for that. After a decade, it still stands out as one of the leading examples of mood altering electronica. Listen to it and take a journey into outerspace.
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on 25 November 2012
Whether or not now is the right time to splash out on this album is down to you. If you're at the stage where you are still out nailing the clubs, then you may want to hold out buying this for a few years. Everything is fairly downtempo, much more trip hop, ambient and, like an electro symphony. This definitely moves in a more orchestral way, with lots of wave like pianos, choirs and, enormous sounding string sections.

There is definitely no absence of big beats though, but think booming hip hop drums and very 90s british feeling tribal rhythms, not fast jungle breaks or four to the floor techno or disco flavours. Samples abound as do what must be original gorgeous flowing synthesisers and spaced out, beautiful guitar work. This is probably most like eno, massive attack's blue lines, gus gus' album, polydistortion and cold cut. in fact, if you like cold cut, i'd say it's virtually impossible not to like this - at least after a few listens.

But, there is definitely more here. This really is one of those perfect and uniquely innovative post modern journeys into the total fusion allowed by modern technology and the cut and paste mentality that really took hold as electronic music evolved. From a compositional view, think of this as essentially reinventing classical whilst keeping choirs and orchestras but adding, dreamy airy effects, modern synthesisers, sampling.

Essentially, this is a great album that everybody should like but if you simply prefer faster more aggressive electronics this is not for you.

If you really like the laid back aphex twin stuff like volume 1 of selected ambient works and tracks such as, Alberto balsam, just go for it. Some of the reviews here say it takes repeated listening, while it could be regarded as challenging, i enjoyed from the get go - its hard not to with something this melodic, beautiful, strange, innovative.
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on 27 November 2000
This is music to lose yourself in. As with all FSOL music it's very freeform with a huge amount going on - little noises and voices which you only notice after a few listens are everywhere. The way to listen to it is to lie back with the lights off and allow the music to transport you into its world, and for the most part its world is beautiful. However, even now, after hundreds of listens, there's a moment in 'Among Myselves' (towards the end of the first CD) which goes right through me - a voice says (sampled from somewhere, I've forgotten where) 'I can hear myself, I think I'm a bit afraid. They were drowning me', followed by the most horrible, violating noise. Truly this is more frightening and shocking than anything off FSOL's 'Dead Cities', despite that album's much harsher sound. And though 'Lifeforms' would be great without it, I would argue that this one moment elevates it above any accusations of 'throbbing on the spot', as I heard one reviewer put it. Otherwise it's gorgeousness all the way. Similar in tone to '76.14' by Global Communication but much more loose and unpredictable, it's a work of genius that stands up against any electronic music of the time and is one of my favourite albums. This is a must if you're into this sort of thing. And if you're not, then this might be the album to convert you.
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on 25 May 2002
in places it's upbeat (Lifeforms). in places it's scary (Vertical Pig). in places it's beautiful (Dead Skin Cells). in places it's hypnotic (Cerebral). in no place is it bad, filler, or even remotely unenjoyable. impossible to listen to one or two tracks without wanting to put the rest of the 90 minute double-cd on, this is truely a masterpiece
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on 23 September 2006
A sprawling double-helping of the finest that synthesisers and samples can offer. Like listening to the life on the ocean floor, or perhaps in the densest rainforest; this album is to take in at a long sitting. The melodies are there, the beats are huge; but by making them analog, organic, the sounds haven't dated one bit. This album could have been released anytime between 1976 and 2006, and we'd all still agree it's 'of its time'. In fact, the 'life' in the recording is the most interesting thing here. It's sound is a musical parallel to a wildlife documentary!

At once dark and uplifting, I remember one review from 1994 which described this album as 'having its own DNA'. I agree entirely; this is synthesised, organic, analog life, and it wraps around your speakers with its green, evolving branches. Let it develop!
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on 10 September 2004
When I first bought this album I hated it. I really couldn't imagine ever listening to it all of the way through but something peculiar happened and one day I found myself digging through a pile of CDs desperately looking for Lifeforms because there was a part of it that I really really wanted to hear (Vertical Pig, for the record). It was at that point that the majesty of it dawned on me. It is no less than a modern masterpiece. Forget the ridiculous track titles, they're meaningless and, I beleive, detract from it. What it is is a thoroughly engaging sequence of beautiful pieces segued with atmospheirc links. Even the links, which irritated the hell out of me, now simply set the scene and build the anticipation for the next piece. Haunting, melodic, strange and never boring. Perhaps it what Holst might have come up with if he'd had access to synthesizers and sequencers when he wrote The Planets.
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on 2 April 2008
This is like nothing else I've heard, even from FSOL. I must admit I wondered what on earth I'd bought when I first heard it, but once I'd got to the end I got it. Swirls of ambient noise give way to some of the most beautiful electronic melodies you can imagine.

It's got loads in common with classical music, you have refrains that pop in and out at various points throughout the album, in fact they even sample Pachabel's 'Canon in D' in 'Domain'. This isn't a pop record. You can't just stick it on whilst you wander round the house and expect to like it. You have to actually sit down and listen to it as a whole to appreciate just how amazing it is.

Highly recommended, but the recommendation comes with a warning to expect the unexpected!
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on 21 May 2016
I love listening to Ambient whilst driving and mostly love The Orb as my weapon of choice. This was a recommendation from a link whilst surfing and the reviews seemed positive, so I took the plunge. Musically it provides the calming background sounds I usually go for, but the construction left a little to be desired. There are also some pointless and annoying bleeps and squawks that seem to serve no purpose and detract from the songs. Agreed, two CDs for this money seems like it should be good value, but having less than half a dozen songs that caught and more importantly held my attention, lessens this benefit. Some good work, but not enough to entice me to buy another CD.
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