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Published: 2011/08/31
by Marc Shapiro

Future Pulls Back the Slingshot

The song opens with laid-back, but bumping electronic drums and textural guitar swells. In seconds, Candice Mills’ soft, seductive voice takes over.

The five-minute “Back to the Sun” features a highly refined six-piece band, drawing on various influences, throwing in riff-oriented grooves, electronic sounds and keeping a strong vocal presence. The sound is distinct and never gets lost in the diversity of its elements.

Three months after releasing the second disc of its concept album, The Outer Edge of Inside (OEOI), Northern Virginia’s Future is taking a step back to define itself again. “Back to the Sun,” which was released in June, is its new testament, showcasing a clear-minded, focused band.

“I think we exercised a lot of demons [on OEOI, which was a good thing,” said Gordon Sterling, one of the band’s guitarists, who boasts a jaw-dropping vocal range. “Every good band needs some demons, but you don’t need too much. It was good to get that out.”

And why wouldn’t a band with so many strong personalities have demons? They mix riff-heavy and bluesy guitars from Sterling and James Helle, melodic vocals from four voices and a hip-hop sensibility from Bucket, the band’s MC and Sound Sculptor, with the groove-based backdrop of bassist Tony Moreno and drummer Deron Pinchback, who play with telepathic tightness. They call it “psykédélique soul.”

Bringing all the pieces together to form a cohesive sound is no easy task, but Future’s musicianship is as ambitious as its name. And only a band like Future could record and release a double-disc concept album and emerge on the other side with a stronger sense of identity.

The 23 songs on OEOI allowed Future to really stretch its musical boundaries and get its musical heebie-jeebies out.

“Now that we know we can cover that much ground, we’re taking a different approach,” Moreno said. “If we put all that under the microscope and really focus it, what is Future’s sound?”

The band is in the best creative place it could be, they say. But sometimes, to get to heaven, you have to go through hell. And the band went through hell, at least in its musical themes.

OEOI follows an upper middle class male from childhood through his teenage years, to adulthood, death and the afterlife.

It was an idea Sterling had years before Future even existed, when he was in a jamband called Ordinary Way. He thought the idea was too “gritty” for the band at the time.

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