Saturday, 20 December 2014

Future Old People Are Wizards - FAUX PAW (Album Review)

Album Type: Album
Date Released: 13th October 2014
Label: Zeal Records

Faux Paw – Track Listing

Teenage hospital
Undo the redo's
Little big one
Ocean sea water
Eastern sabbath
Cotton sheep


Future Old People Are Wizards, sometimes also shortened to FOPAW, is a band from Gent with Stijn Vanmarsenille (Drums Are For Parades, Maya's Moving Castle and Waldorf) on guitar and vocals. Nele De Gussem (Maya's Moving Castle,…) takes on the bass, but instead of going for the classic bass guitar, the bass sounds are created by some brutal synths. Responsibility for the drum lines lies with Piet Dierickx (Animal Muppet whom you may have seen in action with Drums Are For Parades, Monsoon and Soulwax).


Stijn Vanmarsenille (vox, guitar, synths)
Nele De Gussem (keys, vox)
Piet Dierickx (drums)


Future Old People Are Wizards is a suitably odd name for this beguiling trio from Gent, Belgium. “Faux Paw” is their debut full length but you would be forgiven for thinking that this was the work of a band at the height of their powers. The bewildering number of ideas and styles on display here is more than most bands cover in an entire career. However, it’s to FOPAW’s credit that they are not weighed down by this abundance of inspiration but instead meld it into a surprisingly cohesive whole.

Opener “Teenage Hospital” manages to traverse a diverse number of styles and tempos during its 4 minute duration; eerie Faith No More keyboards, spiky guitar leads, crushing Melvins riffage, melodic breakdowns, the child of Josh Homme and Layne Staley on vocals, etc., etc. The band somehow execute this expansive variety of moods in such a way that it manages to come across as a catchy song rather than a queasy mess of incompatible ideas which is quite an achievement.

This sets the tone for an album which engages and excites throughout, throwing in new sounds and influences at every twist and turn without weighing down the music. Key to this is the prominence of keyboards. Often only really used in metal bands to provide subtle ambience or layers of atmosphere, here the synths are often the lead instrument and integral to FOPAW’s sound. An eclectic array of tones are used throughout from the skronking organ freakout in “Undo The Redo’s” to the strange BBC Radiophonic Workshop noises at the start of the proggy glam stomp of “Somewhere”. There are elements of the retro synth wizardry of Zombi throughout and the short mid-album instrumental “Ocean Sea Water” even recalls the woozy ambience of Boards of Canada.

The prominence of keyboards has not lead to any deficiencies in the riffs department though. Again, there is a wide palette on display here from the thunderous Torche stylings of “Undo The Redo’s”, plenty of spiky off-kilter Queens of the Stone Age vibes throughout and even a touch of noise titans Part Chimp and heavy pitch shifter abuse of “Jupiter” era Cave In on “Because”. It’s the likes of the aforementioned Torche and cheerful stoners Tweak Bird who provide the best point of reference though as FOPAW take a similar dayglo pop vibe and fuse it to the crunch of metal to create a colourful psychedelic sound. The overall effect is a bit like the Flaming Lips if they decided to dedicate themselves to the way of the riff.

This is particularly evident on the colossal 12 minute finale “Cotton Sheep”. Its lengthy duration and total lack of metal elements may sound like an incongruous and anticlimactic way to finish the album but it works a treat. Beginning with 5 minutes of swirling solo synth soundscapes before the whole band joins to begin a subdued electronic ballad similar to eclectic indie rockers Menomena. This builds to a soaring pay-off that wouldn’t have been out of place on an older M83 album.

Faux Paw” is a highly impressive debut from FOPAW that reveals more and more with every listen. On this evidence I eagerly await the next dose of Wizardry from this intriguing trio.

Words by Charlie Butler

Thanks to Bucky Brown for arranging the promo. Faux Paw is available to buy now on CD and Vinyl through Zeal Records.

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