Future Sound of London The Isness

Calling yourself Future Sound of London is akin to calling yourself Leaders of the New School - you stick around long enough and your name becomes an oxymoron. Perhaps that's why Garry Cobain and Brian Dougans, on their first effort in five years, have abandoned their traditional ambient techno sound for a regressive stab at psychedelic rock. If so, that's too bad (perhaps they got confused about the whole "prog-rock" tag). The Isness is painful like Kula Shaker is painful, and the whole pretentious experiment reaches for a Pink Floyd pinnacle that can never be achieved. To make it worse, the electronic touches really seem token, rather than the point of the project, though they try and make up for it by using lots of obscure instruments and multitudinous players (the interminable "Mello Hippo Disco Show" credits, like, 25 contributors). "The Galaxial Pharmaceutical" is only the most egregious example, matching acoustic guitar with too-lush strings and Bowie-aping lyrics like, "please tell me Mr. Spaceman/can't you really spare the time?" Maybe it's good on acid, but straight it kind of sucks. (Hypnotic)