The Future Sound of London

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The Future Sound of London
11apr 261 GarryCobain.jpg
FSOL band member Garry Cobain at the 2009 Gogolfest in Kiev, Ukraine
Background information
Also known as see below
Origin Manchester, England, UK
Genres Electronic, ambient, IDM, acid techno, acid house, neo-psychedelia, trip hop, drum and bass
Years active 1988–present
Labels Jumpin' & Pumpin', Astralwerks, Rephlex, Virgin, Quigley, Hypnotic, Future Sound of London Recordings, FSOLDigital, Electronic Brain Violence
Associated acts See aliases
Website www.futuresoundoflondon.com
Members Garry ("Gaz") Cobain
Brian Dougans

The Future Sound of London (often abbreviated to FSOL) is a British electronic music band composed of Garry Cobain (sometimes styled as Gaz Cobain) and Brian Dougans. The duo are often credited with pushing the boundaries of electronic music experimentation and of pioneering a new era of dance music.[1][2][3] Although often labelled as ambient, Cobain and Dougans usually resist being typecast into any one particular genre. Their work covers many areas of electronic music, such as ambient techno, house music, trip-hop, ambient dub, acid techno.[4] In addition to music composition, their interests have covered a number of areas including film and video, 2D and 3D computer graphics, animation in making almost all their own videos for their singles, radio broadcasting and creating their own electronic devices for sound making.[5][6] They have released works under numerous aliases.

The artists have been fairly enigmatic in the past but have become more candid with their fanbase in recent years with social websites like Myspace, YouTube, their forum and many interviews in which Cobain almost always speaks for the group.

History[edit]

Formation[edit]

Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans met in the mid-1980s while studying electronics at university in Manchester, England. Dougans had already been making electronic music for some time, working between Glasgow and Manchester, when the pair first began working together in various local clubs. In 1988, Dougans embarked on a project for the Stakker graphics company. The result was Stakker Humanoid, a single that went on to reach number 17 in the UK charts, becoming the first credible UK acid house tune to cross over into the mainstream.[7] Cobain contributed to the accompanying album. A video was also produced.

Sample of "Q" which was an early single released by the pair that was successful in clubs and was featured on the Earthbeat album.

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Sample of "Central Industrial" from the album "Accelerator", an example of their unique sound at this time.

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In the following three years the pair produced music under a variety of aliases, releasing a plethora of singles and EPs, including the successful bleep techno singles "Q" and "Metropolis", some of which would end up on the duo's first compilation album "Earthbeat" in 1992. "Metropolis" was also very influential in the house scene.

"FSOL"[edit]

In 1991 they released their first album, Accelerator, which was followed by their single "Papua New Guinea", featuring a looping Lisa Gerrard vocal sample from Dead Can Dance's 'Dawn of the Iconoclast' and a bassline from Meat Beat Manifesto's 'Radio Babylon'. The track has made several British "Best songs ever" polls and track specific accolades.[8][9][10] In 1992, Virgin Records were looking for electronic bands and, after "Papua New Guinea"'s chart success, quickly signed them, giving them free rein to experiment, with a reported advance payment of £75,000. With this the duo invested in a collection of Akai S1000 samplers and other equipment.

They began to play with more ambient music, resulting in the "Tales of Ephidrina" album of 1993, the first album to be released under the Amorphous Androgynous alias; this was well received by press and marked a distinct shift from the more techno-driven Accelerator, retaining some dance beats, but focussing more on texture, mood and sound. The album was adventurously released on Quigley, the band's own short-lived offshoot of Virgin. At this time, the band had begun experimenting with radio performance, broadcasting now legendary three-hour radio shows to Manchester's Kiss FM from their studio.

Lifeforms, ambience and the ISDN tour[edit]

"Cascade", released as a single in 1993, introduced the commercial music world to the new FSOL sound. Despite its length, clocking in at nearly forty minutes and stretched over six parts, the track made the UK top 30, and previewed what was to come. In 1994, they released Lifeforms to critical acclaim. The album featured unconventional use of percussion interspersed with ambient segments. The eponymous single from the album featured Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins on vocals. The album itself featured epic, ambient soundscapes, with tracks flowing from one to the next with no pauses in between. Throughout the record, familiar motifs and samples repeated themselves, sitting alongside tropical birdsong, rainfall, wind and an array of other exotic sounds, lending the album a natural, organic feel, backed up by the environmental landscapes that filled the artwork booklet. Brian Dougan's father was involved with the BBC Radiophonic Workshop which was a heavy influence in the almost music concrete feel to Lifeforms. The album was also a top 10 hit on the UK album chart. Cobain has said that around this time that journalists would come to talk to them and one of the first things they would ask would be if they liked Brian Eno (whom they cite as an influence), to which they would laugh and say that they were about looking forward, not to the past. It was, to them, very much a new work rather than just another Eno-type ambient album.[11]

[2]

Sample of "Landmass" from the first two "WipEout" games WipEout and WipEout 2097.

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Sample of "Her Face Forms in Summertime" from Dead Cities.

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That year, they released the limited edition album ISDN, which featured live broadcasts they had made over ISDN lines to various radio stations worldwide to promote Lifeforms, including The Kitchen, an avant-garde performance space in New York and several appearances on the late John Peel's celebrated BBC radio Sessions shows.[12] These shows marked the evolution of the Kiss FM shows of 1992 and 1993, moving away from DJ sets and into ambient soundscapes, with previously released material performed alongside unheard tracks. One live performance to BBC Radio 1 featured Robert Fripp performing alongside the band. The released album's tone was darker and more rhythmic than Lifeforms. Cobain stated that with ISDN they had wanted to achieve something epic and grand but no matter how much technological or personal support they had (and they had everything they could have possibly wanted) they never got to truly do what they envisioned; he admits to wanting too much at this time, even though the album was successful; the 90s, for Cobain in particular, were a time of frustration and feelings of not being able to do what they wanted to, because the technology at the time didn't fit the band's ideas.[13] The following year, the album was re-released with expanded artwork and a slightly altered tracklist as an unlimited pressing.[14]

Dead Cities[edit]

The 1995 edition of John Peel Sessions featured three entirely new tracks, which took the breakbeats and chaotic sampling of ISDN away from their previous lush synthscapes and toward a new, more contemporary sound. In 1996, they released Dead Cities, which expanded upon these early demos. The new material was a mix of ambient textures and dance music. The lead single, "My Kingdom", introduced the sound, with a video featuring shots of London, and a sound suggesting a dystopian city. The album also featured the band's first collaboration with composer Max Richter, which included the big beat track "We Have Explosive" that featured manipulated samples sourced from Run DMC. Released in 1997; it was used on the Mortal Kombat: Annihilation soundtrack, and (before the single release) in 1996 on the video game WipE'out" 2097, along with the track "Landmass", which they wrote especially for "2097" and WipE'out". FSOL contributed to the WipEout Fusion soundtrack as well.[2][15] "We Have Explosive" was the second single from the album, and the band's highest charting single (beating "My Kingdom" by one spot to number 12), and over the course of its five-part extended version included hints of funk, something which would be heard again when the band returned many years later.

The album was promoted by what the band described as "the fuck rock'n'roll tour" via ISDN, lasting several months and gaining much media attention by being the first band to do a world tour without leaving their studio. While 1994's tour had focused on creating soundscapes and unreleased material, the 1996 and 1997 shows were more conventional, each offering a different take on the Dead Cities experience, blending then-current tracks with occasional exclusive pieces of the time. However, the final few performances jettisoned this material for tracks from a series of unreleased sessions, containing more live sounding material, including considerable use of guitar and percussion. These "1997 sessions" were highly sought after by fans, with some tracks forming the basis of the band's psychedelic projects of the following decade, while others appeared on the From The Archives series.

New millennium, new sound[edit]

Sample of "Goodbye Sky" from "The Isness", a typically (for that album) trippy electronic/psychedelic track.

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Sample of "The Lovers" from "The Isness", an example of the mixture of influences on the electronic/psychedelic album.

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After a four-year hiatus, and rumours of mental illness which turned out to be nothing more than exaggeration of Cobain's mercury poisoning from fillings in his teeth,[11][13] the pair returned in 2002 with "The Isness", a record heavily influenced by 1960s and 1970s psychedelia and released under their alias Amorphous Androgynous. It was preceded by Papua New Guinea Translations, a mini album which contained a mixture of remixes of FSOL's track as well as new material from The Isness sessions. The album received mixed press due to the drastic change in sound which was inspired by Cobain's and Dougan's (separate) travels to India and immersion in spiritualism, nevertheless the majority was positive with Muzik magazine offering the album a 6/5 mark and dubbing it "...a white beam of light from heaven..." and other British publications such as The Times, The Guardian and MOJO praising the album and the bands ability to do something so completely different from what they had done before.[16][17][17]

Three years on, they followed the album with a continuation of the Amorphous Androgynous project, Alice in Ultraland. Rumoured to be accompanied by a film of the same title, the album took The Isness '​ psychedelic experimentation and toned it down, giving the album a singular theme and sound, and replacing the more bizarre moments with funk and ambient interludes. The album was ignored by the press, but was received more favourably among fans than its predecessor. Unlike The Isness, which featured almost 100 musicians over the course of it and the various alternative versions and remix albums, Alice in Ultraland featured a fairly solid band lineup throughout, which extended to live shows which the band had undertaken away from the ISDN cables from 2005 onwards.

- Cobain on the new Amorphous Androgynous sound.[11]

5.1 & Digital experimentation[edit]

The FSOL moniker re-appeared in 2006 with a piece entitled "A Gigantic Globular Burst Of Anti-Static", intended as an experiment in 5.1 Surround Sound and created for an exhibition at the Kinetica art museum entitled, appropriately, "Life Forms". The piece contained reworked material from their archives and newer, more abstract ambient music. The piece was coupled with a video called "Stereo Sucks", marking the band's theories on the limitations of stereo music, which was released on a DVD packaged with issue 182 of Future Music Magazine in December 2006 and on FSOL's own download site in March 2007.

They also moved into creating their own sounds when they began constructing electronic instruments, the result of which can be heard on the 2007 release Hand-Made Devices. At their website Glitch TV (where the motto is "[A] sudden interruption in sanity, continuity or programme function") they sell and explain their devices such as the "Electronic Devices Digital Interface" glitch equipment.[6][18]

FSOLdigital and the Archives[edit]

In 2007, the band uploaded several archive tracks online, for the first time revealing much of their unreleased work and unveiling some of the mystery behind the band. The old FSOL material, including the previously unreleased album Environments, along with a selection of newer experiments, the 5.1 experiments and a promise of unreleased Amorphous Androgynous psychedelic material, was uploaded for sale on their online shop, FSOLdigital.com. As of July 2008 the CD releases of the Archives series have sold over 15,000 units.

- Brian Dougans on the positive reaction to the site and "Archives" sales.[19]

In early March 2008, the band released a new online album as Amorphous Androgynous entitled The Peppermint Tree and Seeds of Superconsciousness, which they describe as "A collection of psychedelic relics from The Amorphous Androgynous, 1967-2007". The release retains the sound of their last two psychedelic albums, while expanding on the element of funk first introduced on 2005's Alice in Ultraland. They recorded their following album, The Woodlands of Old, under the alias of their imaginary engineer Yage. Unlike the techno work recorded as Yage in 1992, this new record was darker, more trip-hop and world music-oriented and featured ex-Propellerheads member Will White.

In a continuation of the band's newer, more candid side, they revealed future plans to fans via email and MySpace, with 2008 promising archives from The Amorphous Androgynous, more solo experiments from Brian and further Environments albums, covering past and present material. An entirely new FSOL album is in the works, but no actual details have been revealed to date.

From 2008, the band showcased a series of radio broadcasts and podcasts called The Electric Brain Storms, originally on stations such as Proton Radio, PBS radio in Australia, and Frisky Radio. The remaining shows appeared on the band's official site.[20] and Soundcloud.[21] The shows featured electronic, krautrock, experimental and psychedelic favourites of the band mixed in with known and unknown FSOL material, including newly recorded tracks, archived pieces, and new alias recordings. Many of the new tracks appeared on the band's Environments series. Gaz has described the new music as having "the introspective, kind of euphoric sadness that was always there in the FSOL melodies".[22]

From this point, the band have been alternating their focus between different projects. In 2008, Environments II and From the Archives Vol. 5 were released on the band's site, followed by Environments 3 and From the Archives Vol. 6 in 2010; and Environments 4 and From the Archives Vol. 7 in 2010. Whilst the Archives feature old, unreleased material, the Environments albums feature a mixture of old demos, recently completed, and new tracks.[23]

The band have continued to use the FSOLDigital platform to release side-projects and solo work, under names such as Blackhill Transmitter, EMS : Piano, Suburban Domestic and 6 Oscillators in Remittance, as well as distributing digital releases from other artists, including Daniel Pemberton, Herd, Hettel & Secede, Neotropic, Ross Baker and Seafar;[24] they also continue to update The Pod Room with ISDN transmissions from the 1990s.[25]

A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding in Your Mind[edit]

Following on from the band's 1997 DJ set of the same name, a series of "Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble Exploding in Your Mind" mix CDs were begun in 2006. The first two were released under the Amorphous Androgynous alias, subtitled "Cosmic Space Music" and "Pagan Love Vibrations" respectively, with the first taking over two years to compile, mix and gain sample clearance, both featuring the band's psychedelic influences. A third is set for release sometime in 2010, and will be more electronic, mixed by The Future Sound of London.[26] Further mixes in the series are expected in the future, to be curated by related artists,[27] and the band took the concept live with an eleven-hour spot at 2009's Green Man festival,[28] to contain live bands and DJ spots.[29]

Noel Gallagher of British rock band Oasis, after hearing the first release, became a fan and asked the band to remix the following Oasis single "Falling Down". The Amorphous Androgynous responded with a 5 part, 22-minute Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble remix, which Noel liked enough to release on its own 12". Noel also invited Gaz to DJ at the afterparty for one of Oasis' gigs at Wembley Arena.[30]

The band continue the psychedelic theme to the mixes on their podcast site The Pod Room[20] and on February 2010s Mojo Magazine cover CD.[31] The Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble remixes grow in popularity with commissions from Paul Weller[32] and Pop Levi,[33] and Gaz has suggested a full album of remixes and covers will appear[34] on their recently formed Monstrous Bubble label[35]

On 6 July 2011 it was announced that Noel Gallagher's second solo album will be in collaboration with The Amorphous Androgynous, and is set for release in 2012.[36] In August 2012, Gallagher mentioned in various interviews that he is considering scrapping the collaborative album with Amorphous Androgynous due to not being completely satisfied with the mixes.[37] Two songs from the project have surfaced as B-sides to Gallagher's singles in 2012: Shoot a Hole into the Sun (based on Gallagher's track If I Had a Gun...) was a B-side to the single Dream On, and a mix of AKA... What a Life! featured on the B-side of Everybody's on the Run. However, as the project is currently shelved,[38] the group have returned to original material, releasing the first in a series of Monstrous Bubble Soundtracks, entitled The Cartel.

Future of the band[edit]

The group continue to give updates for the Galaxial Pharmaceutical news site and forum, while largely releasing material through their FSOLDigital imprint. They remain prolific, working on multiple projects at once.[23] As The Future Sound of London, they currently plan to continue releasing new material as part of the Environments series, although in an interview in April 2014, Gaz hinted at the possibility of a new FSOL album in the future.[39]

Independence[edit]

Since the turn of the millennium, FSOL took a more independent turn with their career, releasing their more psychedelic Amorphous Androgynous on an independent label, The Isness on Artful Records[40] and Alice in Ultraland on the progressive Harvest Records (an arm of EMI). They also have their own label called Electronic Brain Violence[41] on which off-beat electronic artists such as Oil and Simon Wells (Headstone Lane) have released EPs and singles. Simon Wells also contributed to Dead Cities on the track "Dead Cities Reprise"[42]

Nevertheless, Virgin records still controls FSOL's back catalog and was going to release the Teachings from the Electronic Brain compilation without them, but the duo insisted on taking control of the production of the project.[13] Cobain says that, even with Virgin, the reason they were able to do their own thing and create the music they wanted in the 1990s was because they already had some major hits under their belts such as "Papua New Guinea", "Metropolis" and "Stakker Humanoid" before joining the label.[13]

[13]

Cobain has said that FSOL's mentality has always been about making a journey of an album rather than focusing on trying to have hit singles. He said that they had several top 40 singles (and albums) in the 90s because they had enough fans and had built up enough of a reputation to achieve these hits while still concentrating on the album rather than any potential singles during their time at Virgin.[11][13]

They have been signed to Passion Records sub-label Jumpin' & Pumpin' since they started out.[43]

Aliases[edit]

[44]

  • Aircut
  • Amorphous Androgynous
  • Art Science Technology
  • Candese
  • Deep Field
  • Dope Module
  • EMS:Piano
  • Heads Of Agreement
  • Homeboy
  • Humanoid
  • Indo Tribe
  • Intelligent Communication
  • Mental Cube
  • Metropolis
  • Part-Sub-Merged
  • Polemical
  • Q
  • Sand Sound Folly
  • Semtex
  • Semi Real
  • Six Oscillators in Remittance
  • Smart Systems
  • Suburban Domestic
  • T.Rec
  • The Far-out Son Of Lung
  • The Jazz Mags
  • The Orgone Accumulator
  • Unit 2449
  • Yage
  • Yunie
  • Zeebox

Discography[edit]

Chart history[edit]

Singles charts[edit]

Year Single Chart Position
1988 "Stakker Humanoid" UK Singles Chart #17
1989 "Slam" UK Singles Chart #54
1992 "Papua New Guinea" UK Singles Chart #22
1992 "Stakker Humanoid '92" UK Singles Chart #40
1993 "Cascade" UK Singles Chart #27
1994 "Expander" UK Singles Chart #72
1994 "Lifeforms (feat. Elizabeth Fraser)" UK Singles Chart #14
1995 "The Far-Out Son of Lung and the Ramblings of a Madman" UK Singles Chart #22
1996 "My Kingdom" UK Singles Chart #13
1997 "We Have Explosive" UK Singles Chart #12
2001 "Stakker Humanoid 2001" UK Singles Chart #65
2001 "Papua New Guinea 2001" UK Singles Chart #28

Album charts[edit]

Year Album Chart Position
1991 Accelerator UK Album Charts #75
1994 Lifeforms UK Album Charts #6
1994 ISDN UK Album Charts #44
1996 Dead Cities UK Album Charts #26
2002 The Isness UK Album Charts #68

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Future Sound Of London, The". Discogs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  2. ^ a b c "Interview With Future Sound of London | Pioneers in the electronic music scene, Future Sound of London | Brian Dougans and Garry Cobain Interview". Remixmag.com. 1 February 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  3. ^ Cooper, Sean. Biography of The Future Sound of London at AllMusic. Retrieved 22 March 2009.
  4. ^ Bush, John. Biography of Amorphous Androgynous at AllMusic. Retrieved 24 April 2012.
  5. ^ Andrea Giacobe/Astralwerks. "Future Sound of London | Music Artist | Videos, News, Photos & Ringtones | MTV". MTV<!. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  6. ^ a b "glitch". Yage.co.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  7. ^ Stuart Aitken (11 November 2013). "Stakker Humanoid: how the Future Sound of London won hearts and minds". guardian.co.uk. 
  8. ^ 09:44 AM. "Ken - #5 greatest "Lost Track" of All Time in Q Magazine - @forums". Atforumz.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  9. ^ "Q Magazine SE - 1001 Best Songs Ever". Rocklistmusic.co.uk. 3 February 2007. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  10. ^ Richard Buskin. "CLASSIC TRACKS: The Future Sound Of London 'Papua New Guinea'". Soundonsound.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  11. ^ a b c d "Future Sound of London : Music News Feature | Clash Music". Clash Music<!. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  12. ^ "The Future Sound of London: Welcome to the Galaxial Pharmaceutical". Secondthought.co.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  13. ^ a b c d e f barcodexl. "The Future Sound Of London Interview". Barcodezine.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  14. ^ "The Future Sound of London: Welcome to the Galaxial Pharmaceutical". Secondthought.co.uk. 5 December 1994. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  15. ^ "Future Sound of London". TrouserPress.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  16. ^ [1][dead link]
  17. ^ a b "The Future Sound of London: Welcome to the Galaxial Pharmaceutical". Secondthought.co.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  18. ^ "YouTube - electronic devices digital interface (EdDi)". Uk.youtube.com. 22 June 2006. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  19. ^ "The Future Sound of London: Welcome to the Galaxial Pharmaceutical". Secondthought.co.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  20. ^ a b "digitalpodroom". Yage.co.uk. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  21. ^ http://soundcloud.com/fsol-digital-recordings/the-electric-brain-storm. Retrieved 29 April 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  22. ^ "The Future Sound of London: Welcome to the Galaxial Pharmaceutical". Secondthought.co.uk. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  23. ^ a b http://ilovecubus.co.uk/fsolboard/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=311. Retrieved 29 April 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  24. ^ http://www.fsoldigital.com/?product_cat=side. Retrieved 29 April 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^ http://www.fsoldigital.com/?product_cat=pod. Retrieved 29 April 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^ "A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble". Users.boardnation.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  27. ^ "AA/Gaz interview in this month's Classic Rock". Users.boardnation.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  28. ^ "21st, 22nd & 23rd August 2009". The Green Man Festival. 17 August 2008. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  29. ^ "AA 7 hour Bubble at Green Man festival (and more news)". Users.boardnation.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  30. ^ "The Amorphous Androgynous & Oasis". Users.boardnation.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  31. ^ [2][dead link]
  32. ^ ted (19 April 2010). "FSOL news: 20/04/10 - that Record Store Day 12" and the state of the world". Fsolnews.blogspot.com. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  33. ^ "FSOL news: 12/05/10 - Pop Levi remix on its way". Fsolnews.blogspot.com. 12 May 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  34. ^ "FSOL news: 21/04/10 - Monstrous Psychedelic Remix Album". Fsolnews.blogspot.com. 21 April 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  35. ^ "FSOL news: 10/05/10 - Monstrous Bubble Records". Fsolnews.blogspot.com. 10 May 2010. Retrieved 31 August 2010. 
  36. ^ RETROFUZZ. "The Official Noel Gallagher Website | Home". Noelgallagher.com. Retrieved 31 March 2012. 
  37. ^ Noel Gallagher Considers Scrapping Album With Amorphous Androgynous. Huffingtonpost.co.uk (9 August 2012). Retrieved on 2012-12-27.
  38. ^ http://fsolnews.blogspot.co.uk/2012/11/031112-archive-7-prime-world-noel.html. Retrieved 29 April 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  39. ^ http://ilovecubus.co.uk/fsolboard/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=687. Retrieved 29 April 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  40. ^ "Artful Records". Discogs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  41. ^ "Electronic Brain Violence". Discogs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  42. ^ "Future Sound Of London, The - Dead Cities". Discogs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  43. ^ "Jumpin' & Pumpin'". Discogs.com. Retrieved 22 March 2009. 
  44. ^ http://ilovecubus.co.uk/fsolboard/viewforum.php?f=8. Retrieved 29 April 2014.  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]