Future Perfect; The Nature of Time

Future Perfect – “THE NATURE OF TIME”;
A Most Happy Sound: “
The Nature of Time” – Zaftig: “Thin Air, Longitude, Tres Elements” – Big Daddy, Jr. & the Spook: “Thank Your Stars” – Christian Erickson: “Boxer” – Alpha 61: “Remote Delay” – TS & Filmore Diggz: “Sex and Violins” – The Radar Threat: “Infengal Decrapulation” – Drone: “Psycho Dub” – Podling: “Essence” (in-between bits on several tracks)
Innova 558. Duration: 65:54.


This is yet another of the illustrious, very original sound-stacks coming out of Innova, the label of the American Composers Forum in Minnesota, which has made it its trade mark to release highly artistic and totally indefinable musics out of the Cultural Subterranea of the Present, in sometimes truly bewildering and brainstorming guises.

Chris Strouth on this music:

Even as I type this, it is the present to me and the past to you, even though you are reading it now… […] Think of this record as allegories and abstractions of time…”

Strouth also explains that the CD can be perceived as a continuation of a performance that the Future Perfect assembly did at the Fredrick R. Weisman Museum of Art, Minneapolis in March 2000. He states that the musicians recorded their parts in their individual studios, after which the recordings were mixed by engineer Bob DeMaa.

Future Perfect’s home on the web is http://www.futureperfect.org, where you can study bios of all people relevant to the project. On curator and founder of Future PerfectChris Strouth - you can read this bit:

Chris Strouth is a conceptual theorist, the director and founder of Future Perfect. He is the Chief and sole employee of UltraModern, a company based on furthering of new music. For the past five years he has been on the curatorial panel of the American Composers Forum's Sonic Circuits. Currently he is the head of artist and product for TRG Records (Twin Tone Record Group).

He was a producer/writer/ and host of the experimental TV program "
What". Dr Strouth founded Red Eye Collaboration's Difficult Music series. Strouth was the curator for many years for Club Scandofari/ Hair Police. As a writer he has done a weekly column on music and youth culture for America On-line as well as a column on electronic music for Pulse, as well as co-authoring two play ("Tales of the Enchanted Tiki Room" and " Teenage Makeout Party"). As an artist he has designed album covers for Marlee MacLeod, Funkytown (soundtrack) Dylan Hicks, the University of Minnesota, and the American Composers Forum, as well as doing all the Future Perfect design

Dr. Strouth
has curated programs at the Walker Art Center (
Future Perfect 4), the Frederick R. Weisman Museum of Art ("Future Perfect 5", "Transcending the experience") Intermedia Arts ("Your My Guitar Hero, new works for Avant Garde Guitar", 'Imaginary Landscapes" and "Future Perfect 6"; "Drop the Needle")

He has recorded with groups: A Most Happy Sound (With Carty Fox, & Lorren Stafford), Seduction of Timothy (with Geoff Seelinger & Bob DeMaa), Ex-Boyfriends of Pamela (with Jim Reay), and seminal 80's noise experimentalists King Paisley. Strouth at one time or another has been involved with the following projects in varying capacities: Rifle Sport art, U.X.B. Hair Police, House Nation, House of Fun, Depth Probe, Cyber Church, etcetera.

Track 1: A Most Happy Sound: “The Nature of Time”.
This is a collaboration between composer Lorren Stafford and Chris Strouth, in which they have set their minds to the task of breaking the barriers of artistic and intellectual habit.

A tic-toc surrealism and a screwy, bending, wobbling layer of dark sounds have you apprehend an army of reapers welling up out of the underworld, snatching lives like a combine-harvester cutting wheat.
It’s a Necropolis atmosphere in these Pierre Henry vibrations of dark under-currents.
The beat, the rhythm, disturbs me somewhat. Perhaps these secular punctuations are but an artifact from a lighter pop scenery of late 20th century, but it effectively tears down what the other sounds build up, taking the power out of the interesting aspect of this web of sounds, which lose their wavy, curtain-like magic in the process. Why did they have to attach this diluting beat? Without that beat this is an ominous, strange soundscape out of the world of Kronos himself!

Track 2: Zaftig: “Thin Air”. Zaftig also delivers “Longitude (track 6) and “Tres Elements” (track 10).
The participants on this track are Chris Strouth [text and narration], Meleck Davis, Len Madsen, Brian Whiton and Ben Connelly. They play a set of percussion and stringed instruments constructed by Jeff Federson, with the addition of bipolar drums, bass and an occasional sousaphone.

A rambling monologue cuts right through this piece, with light touches on the nature of time and its manifestations through all our lives.
What happened before Time? What will happen after Time? Those kind of questions are aired by Chris Strouth in his own text; a supra-religious philosophizing in a slightly roomy voice.
The accompanying sounds grab and shake the line of thought, in drones stretching out elastically.
I come to think about another contemporary piece about time; Paul Lansky’s “
Now and Then”, which is a strikingly funny text-sound piece. This bit by Zaftig and Chris Strouth is more on the serious side, it seems.
The homemade instruments convey a workshop feeling of blowtorches and welding nozzles, a handyman’s tools and steel dust, in a Tom Nunn following of sounding lamellaphone steel beetles and spidery iron insects.

Track 3: Big Daddy, Jr. & the Spook: “Thank Your Stars”.
The members of this crew are Terry Hannen, Jason Ducklinski and Tim Ritter.

Opening in a smooth, soaring Luca Miti mood, a thudding beat (not misplaced like in “
The Nature of Time” before) rolls forth like in Isaac Hayes’ “Shaft”, laying a dark, deep murky carpet of funky timbres for the tingling, bell-like sensations that hover like dancing snow-flakes in weightless suspension. It’s like a latter-day Björk remix from Bombay, exotic and familiar at the same time, like to core of our own un-explained existence; Afghan snow-covered summits and European small-town mid-winter cafés! Grand! Jerky! Bopping!

Track 4: Christian Erickson: “Boxer”.
Participants: Christian Erickson [vocals & sequencing] - Janey Winterbauer [vocals] - Angela Orluck [vocals] – Tim Ritter [sequencing] – Peter Anderson [sequencing].

Again a Björk-like glacier-remix-feel with Icelandic lava flows cutting through the ice; tablas and electronic, throbbing beats, fast events in a recurring, meandering hypnosis instigation.
When “
The Boxer” song seeps through this Björk glacier wall of sound it appears as in a dreamscape that anybody that grew up through the 1960s may embrace with particular sensitivity! This really catches on, and though very simply achieved, I like the result very much!

Track 5: Alpha 61: “Remote Delay”.
Participants: Paul Horn & Jason Shapiro. Horn involves himself in sound wave modulation, analog synthesis, modern electronics and the utilization of found percussion. Shapiro comes to this duo out of labor with the now obsolete OUSIA.

The trance continues, but in a more intricate mood, with electroacoustically manipulated timbres, generating a base of rough, trembling surfaces in constant friction, above which sweeps of electronica move like the arms of an octopus – and the submarine feel is overwhelming as the sounds – maybe unnecessarily smooth and friendly (New Age-smooth…) – filter down like wandering rays of daylight through the ocean, as shoals of glittering fish with mouths like the letter o turn in sudden changes of direction through the fluid, steered by a collective consciousness.
The vocal permutations at the end give me visions of delusive mermaids moving in serpentines through the water… until I realize that they belong in the beginning of next piece!

Track 6: Zaftig: “Longitude”.

The delusive mermaids spin and roll until a voice comes on about Orson Welles and “
The Third Man”, rambling on…
The cuckoo clock is investigated by this rather silly, high-strung male monologue. The home-made instruments are enjoyable, sounding a bit like gamelan, especially they way they’re played, with metallic qualities over a deep, roaring, trembling timbre that shakes your sub-woofer.
When the voice shuts up the music gets really interesting and enjoyable, constituting the most intriguing section so far on this CD.

Track 7: TS & Filmore Diggz: “Sex and Violins”. Mr. Sothiphakhak was born in Thailand and raised in Maple Grove, Minnesota.

The unlikely ingredients of this track more than well justifies its inclusion. Body sounds, burps etcetera, blend in with dance-like motions and cartoon-like Spike Jones incisions. TV jingle cutouts are poured into the grooves, and they’re right in your face in a Brazilian carnival discrepancy!

Track 8: The Radar Threat: “Infengal Decrapulation”.
There is just one force behind this music; Benjy Gross, who is characterized in the CD booklet as “an analog archivist and sonic prankster”, and furthermore the booklet intro stresses that no computers were used in the production.

Is this a steam jet lashing out, or simply hard rain on the patio; butterfly wings fluttering madly in vain – or a nightjar in the dark of a forest… and that organ loop; is it drawn from some religious rite?
The white noise proves a good breeding ground for all kinds of sounding species, coming here to graze and mate; the sonic shores bustling with the vibrant activity of the minuscule pointillist speck of a sound to the long, wavy, sweeping rotor blades of incomprehensibly forceful segments of compressed air.

Track 9: Drone: “Psycho Dub”.
This is a one-man show too. Dave Jarros is the man behind the sound. He is presented in the booklet as “a popular figure in midwestern electronica culture”.

After an initial cranky start-up, a funky, slow-motion rap male jumps at you out of the uptown circuits of brick house tenement dangers, with an imported Jamaican flair; hot night semi-stressed street-car multiphonics in a slim suit with a switch-blade knife threat gleaming in the dark…

Track 10: Zaftig: “Tres Elements”.

Zaftig picks up where they left off, sort of, rattling on about time, time and again; a little tiresome, I have to admit – but as soon as the vocals recede the music gets interesting again. I’d suggest they go purely instrumental. I wouldn’t mind a full-length CD with these instruments!

Track 11: Podling: “Essence”.
Jason Ducklinski, T. Sothiphakhak and Terry Hannen join forces in what is characterized as “a cut-and-paste side project” of TS (T. Sothiphakhak) and Big Daddy, Jr. This grouping is the only constellation on this CD that did not participate at the original performance of March 2000 in Minneapolis, out of which this CD grew.

The narrating monologue is much better here, subdued into the fabric of sounds; an organic part of freaky bird-attack audios, changing so fast you can’t possibly keep track or control – but it all makes sense anyhow, especially if you can de-identify the sound morphemes; i.e. return them to their pre-natal state, granting them their sound value without the attached meaning… and then it gets downright obsessive!