Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

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OffLand
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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by OffLand » Fri Jan 21, 2022 4:25 pm

Cascade 2020 is definitely one of my top FSOL albums. Can't wait to read your writeup on it :)
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Ross
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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Ross » Sat Jan 22, 2022 1:15 pm

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The Amorphous Androgynous – A Monstrous Psychedelic Bubble (Exploding in Your Mind) Presents We Persuade Ourselves We Are Immortal Remixes

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The Amorphous Androgynous & Peter Hammill – We Persuade Ourselves We Are Immortal

Y'know, I quite like the song, but no piece of music can stand up to 90 minutes of reworkings without getting really bloody tedious. I don't think I'll be listening to it again in a good long while.

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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Ross » Sun Jan 23, 2022 2:27 pm

Some odds and ends today.
2020 remixes and compilation tracks

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FSOLDigital Presents 2021 Calendar Album
Some utterly incredible tracks on this one.

-and now I cross the one year line, with every remaining entry being something released within the last 12 months-

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The Future Sound of London - Music for 3 Books
Technically just a compilation, but in actuality, a really great album in its own right.

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FSOL / FSOLDigital - Music from Calendars 2017-2020
A compilation I helped curate.

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Humanoid - Orfan Atmosphere EP
And a brief, somewhat overlooked EP featuring some of my favourite Humanoid material.

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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by OffLand » Sun Jan 23, 2022 9:40 pm

I never got to hear any of the Ramblings EPs so Music for 3 Books was my first listen of all the EPs. I always felt that it made a pretty enjoyable and coherent album so I'm really glad for that compilation. I passed on the Music for Calendars comp (sorry about that as I enjoy your track curations) but having all the calendar compilations already, it felt redundant to own.
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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Ross » Sun Jan 23, 2022 10:51 pm

Yeah, the Calendars compilation is for casual fans and completists really. I probably pop it on as often as the individual calendar albums, just as a different way of listening to the tracks, but it's certainly no essential, especially if you do most of your listening on the computer.

Glad to hear you enjoyed 3 Books at first - it's an album I've had to really force a retroactive perspective on, which is a very weird way of listening, but I think if I'd first heard it as a complete album I would have absolutely loved it. I am, sadly, locked into a 'conventional physical albums and very long EPs' way of listening, which probably doesn't do many of the past ten years' releases any favours for me.

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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by OffLand » Sun Jan 23, 2022 11:07 pm

All of my FSOL listening now is digital. The main reason is the costs to ship from England to the US :(
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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Ross » Mon Jan 24, 2022 4:31 pm

Yes, fair, international shipping is an absolute nightmare these days. I've had to stop following so many American DIY labels because there's no way of affording their releases, and I just never really listen to stuff on the computer.


Just about reaching the home straight today, with last summer's music...

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The Future Sound of London - We Have Explosive 2021
I didn't listen to this one that much last year, largely because most of my FSOL listening was focused on the blog, so this was a wonderful reminder of how utterly fucking brilliant this album is...

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The Future Sound of London - Accelerator (30th Anniversary Edition)
Sound quality vs. artistic intent here.

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The Amorphous Androgynous - The World is Full of Plankton
Fairly inconsequential 10" EP.

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FSOLDigital Present Mind Maps
And with the Controlled Vista trilogy complete, a new series of Touched Music-focused mix CDs begins...

Touched Music FSOL Night 5, 25/06/21
And a new mix to promote that mix's release.

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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Ross » Tue Jan 25, 2022 2:09 pm

Aaand, this is it...

ACID TIME
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Humanoid - 7 Songs

Touched Music FSOL Night 6, 12/11/21
Another Mixlr night intended to launch...

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FSOLDigital Presents Mind Maps 2
My favourite of the Controlled Vistas and Mind Maps so far.

More acid...
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Humanoid - sT8818r Humanoid

...and the first ever full length Humanoid radio mix to promote it.
Humanoid - De:tuned Records Guest Mix, We Are Various, 03/12/21

And ending on what is probably the strongest run of compilation tracks and remixes in the band's history.
2021 remixes and compilation tracks.


That's not actually it, though, as I do have a list of omissions to work through later today, plus a brief look at extra-curricular activities (library music, NFTs, EBV) and, following that, a final post to sum up what I've learned from the whole experience. But in terms of the overall story, we're at the end.


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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Ross » Tue Jan 25, 2022 8:07 pm

And a wrap-up.

An End of Sorts

Well, it’s taken me almost a year, but I’ve reached the end. When I started this blog, I had a lot of thoughts going around in my head, and I was hoping writing all this would help me clear them out. And I think it’s worked. After all this in depth analysis, I’m really looking forward to being able to just listen to my favourite band again and enjoy their music for what it is.

It’s been incredibly interesting, following their music from the earliest days right up to the present. Although I’ve certainly listened to some things in order before, I’ve never done a fully chronological play through like this before (and I almost certainly won’t do again!). Being able to hear every release, transmission and performance in context, with accompanying quotes where relevant, has enabled me to understand and appreciate Brian and Gaz’s music more than ever, and revealed some interesting things that I’d never even considered when I started this blog. I might have thought I knew everything there was to know before this, but I’ve learned so much from the process.

It’s also allowed me to reassess a lot of their music. With a lot of stuff going on in recent years, including some radical changes in sound, a ramped up release rate, some negativity on the FSOLBoard, the fanbase shift from the board to Facebook, having to deal with the nonsense Gaz writes online, and – particularly – my own mental health problems, before starting this blog I had begun to wonder if I was really a big FSOL fan still. I’d maybe talked myself into thinking I liked some releases less than I do for various reasons (largely due to an excessive idolisation of the 1993/1994 material), and that, combined with one or two recent releases I’m slightly less fond of and the lack of many conventional albums in recent years had just soured my enjoyment a bit. At this point, I feel much, much more positive about the band, their music and their future. Which is a huge relief in itself.

This has also led me to really enjoy some records in years. Although I always knew it was great, I found a new love for Dead Cities while writing the blog. After so many releases and transmissions with a particular sound, the slightly starker, more melodically beautiful and melancholic sound of the album absolutely resonated with me in a way it hadn’t done is as long as I can remember. It was really like discovering the album for the first time again. I had very similar experiences with Environments Five and Six and particularly Archived Environmental Views, which has now become one of my favourite FSOL albums. And the re-recordings have really been a source of some of the band’s best material in recent years which, along with Music for 3 Books, have been excellent albums in an era defined by tracks and mixes, which I find generally less satisfying (although not as much as certain FSOLBoard members!). I’ve even discovered an bunch of material I really like on an album I’d previously considered not my thing, The Cartel Vol. 2. With Environment Seven just around the corner, I’m enthusiastically awaiting some wonderful new material…

Not everything I’ve taken away from the experience has been positive. The first three From the Archives albums are patchier than I remember – despite a lot of great tracks on them – and, although I still adore the 2002 mispress version of The Isness, on the whole I’ve found my opinion on most of the later Amorphous material has dropped a little. It has led me to wonder whether my initial love for Alice in Ultraland and The Peppermint Tree was more to do with the lack of new Dougans/Cobain material at the time than my genuine love of the music.

My favourite FSOL and FSOL-related releases, as of 25th January 2022:

Lifeforms
Environments II
Dead Cities
Environments 4
Archived : Environmental : Views
Environment Five
ISDN
My Kingdom
The Isness (2002 Mispress)
Cascade 2020
Environment Six
From the Archives Vol. 9
Blackhill Transmitter
From the Archives Vol. 7
Lifeforms Paths
Music for 3 Books

Last but not least, thank you to everybody who's read along, and given me feedback. I hope you enjoyed this, and maybe even learned something! It's been a labour of love, and a difficult one at times, but knowing that other people have enjoyed it to has given me the strength to keep on writing when I'm had one of my 'why the fuck am I spending all this time on this?' moments (they happened far more often than you might think).

And with that, this is done. Until I remember something I’ve forgotten in a few days. I’ll keep the blog updated with new releases as and when they come along. With around seven more planned for this year that shouldn’t be too long…

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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Neil » Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:50 pm

Ross you've undertaken an epic task with this, thank you. I'm a relatively recent member of this board, having been a huge FSOL fan in the 90's, but drifting off after Amorphous stuff (which i do really enjoy), and then getting very lost when i tried to reconnect during the Archives/Environments era. This board and your blog has single handedly navigated me through all the material from this era, allowing me to reconnect with FSOL in a big way. I think i wrote off a lot of the newer releases because of the prolific release rate, and just not having a map for all the different release types, and not really knowing what was a 'real' new album (which doesn't really matter to me now). The fractional difference blog has really charted everything for me, and i've spent a load of cash (thanks!) on scooping up various releases from the last 10-15 years. I've learnt loads about the records and the bands history so it's been really, really interesting to read and i can't believe how comprehensive your knowledge is! Listening to the releases whilst accompanying them with the blog has really increased my enjoyment of the material, and i have a whole new batch of favourites from the Archives/Environments era now, which is really exciting - so much new (to me at least) music to explore. The record store day has helped too, but without this board i'm not sure i'd have even noticed RSD releases. I'm now really excited for Environments 7, which is the first time in years i've been really stoked for a new FSOL release, almost like the good old days. Thanks for reconnecting me with all things FSOL. I'll be dipping into the blog for a while yet, it's an awesome resource to have.

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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Neil » Tue Jan 25, 2022 10:53 pm

Also to add - genuinely a bit sad that it's finished now! Was constantly checking for the next Fractional Difference update!

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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by eoghan » Tue Jan 25, 2022 11:28 pm

Absolutely agree with Neil. Fractional Difference is both an important record and a heartfelt personal journey. Bravo.

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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by OffLand » Wed Jan 26, 2022 2:50 am

I have thoroughly enjoyed reading every post on Fractional Difference along the way, over the past year. I've honestly been looking forward to each new post and reading them really helped me get through the past year in all its difficulties. Thanks Ross! I look forward to the next FSOL release, as always! And I look forward to your next post to accompany the next release. I suppose and hope that will be Environments 7: Rituals!
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Re: Fractional Difference - Exploring FSOL song-by-song

Post by Ross » Wed Jan 26, 2022 3:40 am

Thanks everyone, I'm glad it's been useful and entertaining to you all, and thanks for coming on the journey with me!

Neil - yeah, the early years of FSOLDigital were overwhelming, and while it all settled down for a while, the last five years have been similarly crazy and difficult to keep up with. One of the many things I wanted to do with the blog was putting the recent material into the same context as the rest of the band's catalogue, for myself as much as anything! I still do miss the time when every release felt like a growth from the previous, rather than the current approach which feels a lot more chaotic, but it's definitely helped me appreciate some recent releases, and I'm glad I've helped you discover and understand more releases.

Tim - yes, to the best of my knowledge, Rituals will be the next release. As the first 'proper' FSOL album since Environmental (nearly five years ago?!), I'm extremely excited.

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