This electronic rock quartet dives headfirst into darkness on their newest album.
Kingston-based electronic rock quartet Futura Free's latest project is the fourth album in the band's catalogue, following 2019's Unreal, 2020's acoustic version, and 2020's We Released a Song Every Week During Quarantine. The band describes their sound as part dream pop, part punk, part post rock, part shoegaze, and part electronic- altogether under the label 'experimental rock', thanks to the members' mixed bag of influences. The line-up includes Peter Luft on guitar and vocals, Gabriel Reeves on bass and vocals, Kevin Feeley on guitar, and Bobby Benevides on drums.
"Our sound is an upbeat, catchy backbone, overlaid with lush, reverb-laden guitars and surreal experimental elements," said Luft. "Radiohead is a big inspiration for our band, due to their constant boundary pushing with combining experimental elements into the production of their songs. The same goes for My Bloody Valentine, and Peripheral Vision by Turnover, as we find it strikes the perfect balance between ambient dream pop and upbeat pop punk. We’re also influenced by multiple mid-west emo bands, including Modern Baseball, The Hotelier, and The Front Bottoms, for the way that they incorporate catchy hooks with thoughtful lyrics into their music."
Visuals are a strong component of the band's marketing,
"Aesthetically, we draw a lot of influences from glitchy 90s computer visuals, bright neon colours, and the vaporwave subgenre," said Luft. "We really leaned into it with the design of our album artwork, videos, and other visual stuff."
Futura Free starting writing Reducer in May of 2019.
"Interestingly enough, it started out as an ambient electronic album, which was 90% complete before we basically started over from scratch in January 2020, with a more indie-rock focused sound," said Luft. "Since we had the freedom to shape the record as we wanted with no real budget or deadlines, we spent a lot of time deliberating on the direction the album should take. Clinton Baverstock from the band Headglow provided a lot of writing and production advice during this time."
The album was recorded and produced entirely by the band in their home studio, which allowed the friends to maintain their freedom to experiment creatively.
"As mentioned previously, there was an initial electronic version of the album that was pretty much complete before we shelved it and started over, which was a difficult call to make, but definitely the right one in the end," said Luft. "Producing this album was weird and time consuming, but so much fun. It was incredibly liberating to be able to break all the rules and experiment as much as we wanted, in order to create something truly unique and special."
Reducer shows Futura Free expanding their music stylistically, as they leave Unreal's sunny disposition behind and dive headfirst into darkness.
"Our previous album Unreal is a concept album about love, happiness, and fulfillment, and Reducer is the absolute antithesis to those themes," said Luft. "It delves into topics of depression, doom, and anxiety."
You can find two major motifs reoccurring throughout the LP, both exploring the bandmembers' fascinations with death and beyond.
"The first one is the notion of ‘the gates’, which is a loose metaphor for being able to escape the dark place you find yourself in, or a light at the end of the tunnel," said Luft. "The second motif is the idea of ‘falling forever’, which I was inspired to write about after reading the horror novel House of Leaves. It’s the idea of falling into an infinite void for so long that you lose all relative concept of anything around you, it’s heavy stuff."
Reducer's debut track, "Weapon", explores one of the more grounded concepts displayed on the project.
"It isn’t exactly more lighthearted than the rest of the album, but it does have one foot grounded in more tangible problems than what we will experience later on in the record," said Luft. "It’s about how dumb cosmic luck has afforded you every opportunity in life, and your failure to act on this insane privilege."
"Different Things" is about the large, intimidating world.
"This song is reckoning with how large and terrifying and indifferent the world is," said Luft. "The chorus has the line "Different things can be sad, it’s not all war," which is taken from the movie Ladybird, where the main character exclaims that people’s smaller problems matter too."
The third track calls out music fans who deny the shady backgrounds of their favourite bands.
"I wrote "Except For Me" about a musician who I used to look up to and admire, who ended up doing some terrible things to a lot of people, and how a lot of folks are already starting to forget those awful things and listen to his band again," said Luft. "It’s about the impermanence of everything, and the fear that nothing you do will matter."
"Optical Illusion" is about wasted potential.
"It's a song all about wasting the opportunities afforded to you in life, and also referencing something very sinister hiding just out of view, watching," said Luft. "It’s about slowly degrading as a person, while the world degrades along with you."
"Portal" finds the band coming to grips with past trauma, memories, nostalgia and the importance of insignificant events. Following up with "Falling Forever", this brief interlude allows listeners to take a breath before descending back into the album.
The seventh track on Reducer is described as the most brutal and hopeless song on the record.
"Blasts of noise and indiscernible sources howl in the background of "Landing Area", with the most defeated lyrics on the whole record," said Luft. "Lyrically, this is hitting rock bottom, the lowest of lows on Reducer."
"No Way To Know" takes the positive route.
"Somehow, miraculously, impossibly, it’s not over," said Luft. "It's a song about kindness and empathy, showing it both to others and yourself. It’s not exactly a victorious song, but the bad dreams are over for now and there’s comfort to be taken in that. We made it through another day."
Wrapping up the album on "Outside", Futura Free wanted to leave listeners with a happy ending after such a heavy listening experience.
"It's the end credits of the album, so to speak," said Luft. "A few simple lyrics about choosing to leave the house on a sunny spring afternoon. The journey we took to get to the end was harrowing, but it’s over. Time to relax, you earned it."
Although Reducer follows heavy themes, the band hopes their listeners take away feelings of hope.
"The world is a scary place, and mental health problems can be cruel and senseless," said Luft. "However, there are people who love you and there’s always a reason to keep going, even when that feels impossible. As long as you’re still breathing, there is time to heal."
You can help support Futura Free by following their socials or donating to their Bandcamp linked below.
(Postponed due to COVID-19.)