With and Without
The seminal electro trio from Copenhagen, comprised of Anders Remmer (aka Dub Tractor), Thomas Knak (aka Opiate), and Jesper Skaaning (aka Acustic), is about to return with its first new album in 13 years -- the aptly-titled With and Without. Future 3's album of airy, ethereal-yet-epic compositions both nods to the trio's '90s roots but also takes in all the various musical experiments, ventures, and releases that have seen the light of day since 2001. The band's first album in 13 years, With and Without inhabits, as the title indicates, two different kinds of sonic realms: The "With" part refers to a series of song-based pieces Remmer, Skaaning, and Knak recorded with album guests Thomas Meluch (better known as Benoît Pioulard) and Anja T. Lahrmann (Ice Cream Cathedral); "Without," in turn, points to the other half of the album, comprised of instrumental, ambient-sounding pieces written and recorded without guest contributions. Following the album opener "Mmn" with its vocals that seem to loom and soon disappear in a sea of likewise ebbing and floating electronica, "Revenant" sets the tone for the album: At first hesitant yet announcing Future 3's return -- "oh, coming back," indeed --, the track builds up steadily, almost secretly, to a climax that sounds misty, wistful, and reassuring at once. In the case of "Signature," it's Anja T. Lahrmann's vocal contribution over a flickering landscape of gentle synthscapes that lures the listener in, like a chant projected on the insides of a surreal church hologram. Ranging from shape-shifting and sweet-voiced electro pop nuggets to majestic, ambient snippets, from playfully pounding instrumental tracks to crisp beat wizardry, With and Without combines instrumental and vocal tracks, proper song structures and rather loose, open-form soundscapes, marking a cinematic and sonically diverse return.