How to describe Future History’s sound… Ah, yes. Remember when Radiohead released OK Computer? Remember how bloody brilliant and awesome that era of their sound was, how the electronic elements balanced beautifully with rocking guitars and layered vocals? Yeah, I miss when Radiohead wowed me.
-Open ‘Til Midnight
Future (noun): 3. A prospective or expected condition, especially one considered with regard to growth, advancement, or development
History (noun): 2. The branch of knowledge that records and analyzes past events
To understand where Future History is headed, one must examine the road the band has traveled.
In the short time since the Feb 2010 release of their debut EP, “Self-Titled.” Future History have made quite an impact on the independent music scene in Canada. Comprised of Kevin Ker, Justin Dillon, Chris Dawe and Mike Baggley, the music of Future History have been described as haunting and poetic, experimental alt-rock. Deeply metaphorical lyrics are simultaneously accessible yet beyond immediate comprehension. The band has amassed a long list of accomplishments: a supporting slot on the 2011 Marcy Playground tour, multiple showcases at CMF and NXNE, Top Record of 2012 honours, nods for “Best Record” and “Best Singer/Songwriter” at the Toronto Independent Music Awards and many more.
In setting out to craft their sophomore release, the heavily lauded Loss:/self, the band took a left turn, one that proved intense and ultimately rewarding. “The only thing [we] were sure of was that we wanted to make something meaningful, something cinematic in scope like our favourite records had always been,” explains front man and songwriter Kevin Ker. “The one major influential decision we made at the very beginning was that we didn’t want to limit the creative pursuit by concerning ourselves with how we would reproduce it live. We decided the record would stand on its own and the live show would follow, not vice versa like we had done with self-titled.“
Loss:/self was crafted and recorded over 12 months at Chalet Studios in Claremont, Montreal, random forests, basements, and — while stranded during a hurricane — in New York City. The band employed the use of over 50 instruments, devices and household objects, combined with a 35-person vocal, stomp and drum circle and the heartrending cry of a lonely whale. It also featured a slew of guest appearances; including Todd Clark (Pilot Speed), Jonathan Dauphinais (Beast) and Kevin Pullen (The Dunes). An anamorphic journey of a record, Loss:/self was released in early April 2012 to a sold-out Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto.
Adored by press and fans alike, Loss:/self generated reviews from all over the world. The album yielded “Best Live Band” and “Best Singer-Songwriter” nominations at the 2012 TIMA’s (Toronto Independent Music Awards) and beat out Metric and Bruce Springsteen in securing “Record of the Year” on Open ’til Midnight (http://otmblog.com/2012/12/13/top-12-albums-of-2012-part-two/)
The resonance the album holds with listeners perhaps lies in how deeply personal the songs are, and how well they capture the human condition itself. “I was re-reading books like 1984, Brave New World and A Clockwork Orange… These Dystopian worlds didn’t seem all too unfamiliar to me,” Ker says. “Loss:/self was a realization of mass proportions — not only about the world around me but also the internal struggle and how it so accurately reflected the external. A lot of the songs may appear to be about someone else, but it was always an internal dialogue.”
The dawn of 2013 marked a new beginning. Future History wanted to follow Loss:/self with some form of resolution and immediately began making plans for their third record. Finding a hermitage in an old, decrepit and haunted cabin in the backwoods of Ontario, assembling a myriad of old recording equipment acquired over the years and utilizing old furniture discovered in the cabin, Kevin Ker personally spent 6 months in solitude writing the record.
“With each new day, I began a meditative journey, stripping away inhibitions and expectations… It was an amazing experience to write without consequence,” Ker relates. Mirroring the gradual stripping down to the core self on the previous album, this opening up of the creative process brought a new understanding of life itself. “When I listen back to the songs they all make perfect sense to me… They were the realizations I had been searching for [during the writing of Loss:/self].” Summoning, discovering, creating and capturing: the result is a haunting 8-song trip that echoes and responds, entitled Lungs.
Opening with “Breathing”, Lungs immediately pulls the listener into the space where the songs came alive. Ker describes it vividly: “The settling of the walls, the rain and wind outside, the creaking of the trees leaning in towards me, a strange pulsing as if breathing all around me.. The cabin had a voice of its own.”
Rife with realizations, the album traverses a terrain where hopelessness gives way to anger and the expectations of the world that push against us from birth are shrugged off in search of being true to oneself. In discussing “Take Two”, Ker explains, “We are not living life the way we should be… We are disconnected from nature — from our nature. From a living, breathing entity.” That connection underlies the sonic journey, a struggle to resist external pressures as ingrained as the Pavlovian response and carve a new path — a new future from weary history. By the time “Without (You)” swells to its stunning crescendo, one draws a deep breath of wonder as Ker sings, “The numbing is leaving/For the first time, I can feel my lungs breathing.”
Intelligently poignant lyrics, accompanied by haunting, yet completely affable music, Future History’s sound is not only accessible, but can have the power to reach an incredibly broad audience. With their special brand of experimental music, Future History will be expanding minds wherever they go for a long time to come.
-Toronto Live Music Examiner
What lies ahead for Future History is unwritten. The band refuses to conform to anything but an honest, passionate approach to their craft and therein lies a healthy unpredictability. What is certain is their music will continue to tap into an unspoken, collective need within us all for self-reflection and meaning.
After all, in the end, aren’t we all future history?
Kevin Ker – Vocals, Guitar
Justin Dillon – Percussion
Chris Dawe – keys, Percussion
Mike Baggley – Lead Guitar
“Lungs” EP November 2013
“Loss:/self” LP April 2012
“Names For Numbers”- Single September 2010
“Self-Titled”- EP January 2010
Psychedelic Love Noise