As a label, Future Times has always been immediate, especially when stacked up against other related US labels such as L.I.E.S., RVNG Intl., and Minimal Wave. Even the hip-hop centric Outrageous Soulz / Dreamerzzz, which kickstarted the label, from Maxmillion Dunbar had a crafty summery glitz to it. It’s fitting that Andrew Field-Pickering, who handled the first release, is behind the label’s first full length, Son.
Still fresh off his debut album as Maxmillion Dunbar, it’s safe to say the last year or so has been productive for him. Together, with Ari Goldman, the duo makes disco influenced music as Beautiful Swimmers and in the last few years they’ve sporadically released singles on the label. Where Andrew’s Maxmillion alias is less sample based and puts an emphasis on molding sounds, Beautiful Swimmers has an anything goes approach to their production. Their earlier records displayed a quaint sense of nostalgia for decades past, but in a tasteful way and a modern context; they are not afraid to grab an obvious loop and run with it. That mentality is what makes Son such a satisfying listen.
The album opens with the found sounds of a rainforest or some type of natural habitat before launching into a frenzy of samples and snare hits. Their ability to grab the perfect snippet of a record and place it in the center of the track remains intact. “No!’s” twinkling melodies and vocal samples go on for a couple of minutes before they introduce “Spezi.” Here is where everything begins to heat up. Elastic synthesizers and hollow kicks bounce around the mix. It’s as if someone wound up the sounds of the mid ’70s and ’80s and let them loose in an enclosed space. The space in question is the mind of Andrew and Ari, who mold it into something with a semblance of structure. For those who might have missed their first few singles, the LP includes “Swimmers Groove” and “Big Coast.” Both are some of the duo’s most concise and direct tracks. “Big Coast” is a perfect storm of samples and drum loops. It has the potential to set the tone for an entire night or be the track DJs pull for the “one more tune” moment.
Without a doubt this can be the soundtrack to any party-goer’s summer; you will have no issue chucking this in your car’s stereo and cruising to it; at the same time it’s laced with excellent dance tracks. Listening to “Running Over” is like being transported to a foreign island where the words “worry” and “problem” don’t exist unless preceded by “no.” Everything about the track lines up with what DJs and party-goers love—it’s lengthy, uncomplicated, and memorable. The album also has its share of softer moments such as “Easy On The Eyes,” which is a short interlude-type track. It feels like a comedown after the rush from “Running Over.” The amount of ground they cover in 11 tracks makes it difficult to give the album a tag; by the sounds of “Cool Disco Dan” it’s as influenced by early hip-hop as disco. Then there are tracks like “Joyride,” which sounds as though it should be behind some sleazy ’70s film. “Gettysburg’s” complete ambience could have been the work of Max D alone with a haze of synthesizers and simmering highs. And the closer “Big Coast” is a fitting and bittersweet ending.
This album touches on a decent sized piece of Andrew and Ari’s musical tastes. Often, listening to albums from artists who focus primarily on electronic music, can sound vapid or spotty, but Son gives us the full Future Times experience. It’s colorful, easy-going, and well-informed. Though disco seems to be in fashion at the moment, these guys have been going at it for years and they do so in a way that lacks the “here we go again” moments of some artists.