Blast From the Past is an occasional Crossfade column re-examining classic South Florida releases of yesteryear. Click here for past editions.
FUTURISK - The Sound of Futurism
(Clark Humphrey Records)
For all the cool synth acts the hipsters drool their PBR's for nowadays, I'm glad and quite freaking happy to say that South Florida was at the forefront of this genre way back in 1979. Yes, 1979. At the same time that California acts The Screamers and The Units were making a similar racket. Before the internet age of easy communication. This cool little 7" got its break when British ex-pat Jeremy Kolosine won some type of Battle of the Bands setup with his guitar and synthesizer driven band Clark Humphrey and Futurisk and was awarded studio time and money. Dropping Clark Humphrey from the moniker (an alleged alias of his at the time) and going solely with Futurisk and recruiting Jack Howard (drums) and Frank Lardino (synths) to aid in the process, he laid down the two tracks that comprise this record.
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"Army Now" is certainly a product of its time, meaning that lyrics-wise it embodies the spirit of American late 70's and early 80's anti-war, Soviet/Reagan paranoia with a definitive blend of Crass and D-Beat for good measure. But it is executed superbly with a thin-line of effective shadows that lend an ominous layer for the synths and drums and studio effects to rise from, supporting a quivering application of vocals that are juxtaposed with military cadences, electronic versions of missiles in flight, explosions and machineguns. Nifty. Imagine The Varukers at the discotheque wearing thin ties.
The flip, "What We Have to Have" is certainly more relaxed, if not eccentric and the type of track that can turn slamming into electro gratuitous dancing. Even though it opens with "Responsibility is what we have to have." Again, the vocal work is a quirky nervousness over some cool synth riffs and airy, high-hat heavy drums that sound combined with either an electric kit or a drum machine. Regardless of which, it totally works and it kinda makes me think of Isao Tomita having a go in a rock arena as opposed to classical music with an arsenal of bleeps and beeps harnessed by Atari's best programmers.
Five hundred copies were pressed and good luck finding one for a decent price. Good luck if you're the type of completist that requires all available colors of the cover cardstock, to my knowledge, I've seen blue and yellow. Futurisk went on to record a follow-up EP with an entirely different ensemble before disbanding completely. Songs from that EP have cropped up in comps as recently as 2007, but that will be a subject for this column another day. In the meantime, Kolosine has kept himself active within his genre, constantly exploring synth-pop avenues under the guises of The Receptors and the 8Bit Operators with a handful of releases for each. The video below is from an appearance on the Ed Rich Rock Show circa 1982. Keep in mind that the vocals are different on this footage than on the record.