Future Shock sounds like the elaborate rhythm tracks for an album that was never finished. Working with Bill Laswell and Michael Beinhorn, better known as Material, Hancock has taken his lead from the contemporary urban-funk scene and produced a sterile, joyless album full of mechanical rhythms and digitally manipulated instruments and voices. The bottom fizzles and blurts, but nothing happens on top. Call me a reactionary, but no out-growth of soul music should be this soulless.
While the technology used on records like this is becoming increasingly more sophisticated, the melodic and rhythmic ideas have become simpler and progressively more monotonous. None of the synthesizers or trendy turntable mixers can disguise the fact that funny sounds are taking the place of solid inventiveness and substance. Coming from such highly touted funk conceptualists as Hancock and Material, this tired exercise in computerese is all the more disheartening.
Denied the chance to add any of his spectacular harmonic and melodic ingenuity to the tracks, Hancock is reduced to being a sideman on his own album. By stifling his own creative powers and aping trends he doesn't seem comfortable with, Hancock is cutting himself off from the black musical culture he so longs to embrace. I am not looking forward to his rap album. (RS 405)
(Posted: Sep 29, 1983)
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