Studying the Smashing Pumpkins 2.0, Part 2: TheFutureEmbrace

Following the sudden demise of Zwan in 2003, Billy Corgan opted to embark on a solo career.  TheFutureEmbrace, Corgan’s solo debut, dives headfirst into the electronic stylings addressed on the Smashing Pumpkins’ Adore.  Never afraid to musically cite his influences in the past, such as Boston and Black Sabbath, TheFutureEmbrace showcases Corgan’s musical kinship to both Depeche Mode and New Order.  An album of gothic romanticism, TheFutureEmbrace is arguably Corgan’s most politically and socially conscious record to date.  The album’s lyrics are evidence of Corgan’s headspace at the time as a paranoid media saturated American living with the threat of terrorism.  This position is reflected in “Mina Loy (M.O.H.),” which expresses his sentiments for his hometown of Chicago (btw, M.O.H. stands for My Old Heart, which was the songs initial working title).

The biggest stylistic departure for Corgan on TheFutureEmbrace is the absence of guitar.  In fact, Corgan limited himself to a single guitar track on each song, thus producing identifiable melodic lines that filter through the rhythmic beds electronics.  For example, check out this performance of “ToLoveSomebody.”

While “ToLoveSomebody” is a Bee Gees cover, the recorded version on TheFutureEmbrace features contributing vocals from Robert Smith (The Cure) and is one of two songs to feature guest contributions.  The second song is “DIA” which features Corgan’s often-cited musical soul mate Jimmy Chamberlin on drums.

Legend has it that the relationship between Corgan and Chamberlin continued to grow strong after the breakup of Zwan, and the pair collaborated not only on “DIA” but on the song “Loki Cat” from the Jimmy Chamberlin Complex’s Life Begins Again.

Other notable performers and contributors to the recording and production of TheFutureEmbrace include co-producers Bon Harris (Nitzer Ebb) and Bjorn Thorsrud who produced Zwan’s Mary Star of the Sea.  As well as programming from Brian Liesegang (Nine Inch Nails/Filter/Ashtar Command) and Matt Walker who famously toured as the Pumpkins drummer after Chamberlin’s departure during the tour for Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness.  Both Liesegang and Walker served as Corgan’s backing band on tour for TheFutureEmbrace, along with keyboardist and vocalist Linda Strawberry.

TheFutureEmbrace was overshadowed at the time of its release due to Corgan’s full-page ad in the Chicago Tribune stating his intentions to reform the Smashing Pumpkins, which appeared on the same day as the album’s release.  As a result, TheFutureEmbrace features some of Corgan’s strongest and under examined work.  Songs like “A100” and “Pretty, Pretty Star” sound like blueprints for the future pop gems produced by the likes of MGMT and The Limousines, while “The Cameraeye” ranks alongside songs like “1979” and “Disarm” as Corgan’s most stylistically transcendent compositions.  “Strayz” posits itself at the opposite side of the spectrum of the majority of Corgan’s discography as it features no drums and no guitar.  Hopefully, with Corgan’s plans to reissue the album in the future it will contain the American iTunes bonus/pre-order track “Tilt” (available here: which, along with lead single “Walking Shade”, serves as Corgan’s most upbeat music during his solo period.

I’ll leave you with the official video for “Walking Shade.”


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: