Tuesday, January 7, 2014

TIMR 24: John Foxx and The Maths: Rhapsody (UPDATED)

John Foxx - one of the more un-centred parts of my music history - important but more tangential or something. Perhaps, to explain....

I missed Ultravox! - I am sure that Hiroshima Mon Amour was on Countdown and the link with Eno was there, but their time and mine did not fit (recently have gone to those early albums and enjoy them).

After the split obviously Vienna and the new romantics were about and more prominent and while Underpass was a small hit for Foxx, the album didn't reach me. Then Impact Records in canberra sand its siren song to me and I picked up some 12" single in sales and eventually got the four Foxx albums - Metamatic, The Garden, The Golden Section and In Mysterious Ways. My favourites were 4, 2 , 1, 3 by the way.

Then he went quiet.

On a trip to England in 2005 in a small record shop I found the double album of the first two Cathedral Oceans albums - beautiful ambient emerging from The Garden. There was also a live album there - I think it was the Omnidelic - but I didn't pick it up - another missed opportunity.

Anyway, a few years later something nudged me & I looked into him on the web and found the resurgence with Louis Gordon in the late 90s/early00s. This developed his older material and also included some wonderful new albums.

His career has continued since - there have been more ambient albums; ambient collaborations with Harold Budd, Robin Guthrie; songs with Belbury Circle and Jori Hulkkonen this year; some great resissues and compilations; 

And most recently teaming up with Benge to form The Math - Rhapsody is their most recent release. There shared love of analogue synths provides great warm sounds to go with Foxx's still subtle and always striking voice, often half spoken.

Throughout this long career Foxx has revisited past material and released it in live and studio albums: Rhapsody is another in that line. It takes ten songs from Ultravox! onwards and re-records them, live in studio before going out on the road with them. These aren't radical reworkings but rather presenting the music with the current lineup, modified slightly and subtly tweaked.

As I say, Foxx (perhaps because he dropped out after 4 great albums) was never central in my music world, but those albums got a lot of play and still do, and the newer ones are also high in my mind when I want some joyous electro or thoughtful ambient. It is great he is back.

Caveat - there is one album of his I don't like: a collaboration with Theo Travis (flute, sax) and to me it is too close to New Age: I have also avoided Travis's collaborations with Fripp.

A great discography is at

And Foxx's own page is pretty great

UPDATE: Foxx's album A New Kind Of Man which is Metamatic, the first solo album, plus other tracks from the same period performed live in 2007 is now available from townsend records for pound1.99 - great buy, great bargain

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