Future Sound of London – Domain [1994]

I still think this is my favourite part of Lifeforms. Simply using Pachebel’s Canon and layering a collage of strings and samples over the top results in 2 and a bit minutes of complete bliss. The whole of Lifeforms is a bloody amazing album and well worth a listen if its been awhile.

From Discogs
Time to review another classic ambient album: well, Lifeforms is THE classic ambient album. It’s widely available and evokes the most wonderful of atmospheres. Really the magnum opus of FSOL, Lifeforms made the duo and is always referenced as their best.

The 1994 album is difficult to categorize – the numerous use of samples push the album towards the ambient house genre, some call it Leftfield (I still don’t think that’s a proper genre even though the band were unique) and others call it that horrible term ‘IDM’. I see it as more of a breaks-driven ambient release even though it’s often categorized as one of the best UK electronica releases alongside the aforementioned Leftfield’s Leftism, Orbital II and the Orb’s Adventures (all of which have an ambient slant).

The atmosphere conjured up by the album is stunning. Lifeforms really shows the oxymoron better than any other album – an organic, breathing jungle is being created purely with electronic sounds and some instrumentation. Cascades begins as such, with a guitar supported by an ambient landscape. Flak builds up the dense environment with magical chimes and plodding herds. Dead Skin Cells is the beautiful and sad call of a lonely animal. Lifeforms showcases the darker and more hostile side of the jungle. Amongst Myselves – the death of an explorer lost in glimmering caves below the rainforest.

Disc 2 should be listened to straight after Disc 1 since it’s here that the journey becomes really exciting. Domain is a wonderfully fragile piece which borrows Pachelbel’s Canon. Vertical Pig is apocalyptic – humans have come to raze down the jungle. Cerebral is the sad cry of the animals who are having their habitat destroyed. The layers slowly decrease and fold up – the lifeforms abandoning their dying realm. The end of Little Brother is the final call of helplessness from the forlorn creatures.

Truly one of the masterpieces of ambient since it achieves a special, ineffable kind of atmosphere with ease. I feel like an adventurer, exploring the rich textures of this beautiful album. Towards the end the lifeforms slowly die out as the forests are cut down by men in place of Dead Cities…

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