Foxx Feeding Frenzy: Collecting Contemporary John Foxx

© 2011 Paul Wady

Last month I reached my breaking point. I ordered eight recent John Foxx albums that were released in the last two years and unavailable easily in The States from the John Foxx Store at Townsend Records. That discounts the two new collaborative albums that were released about a week after I made my order. Sure I could have pre-ordered them, but when ordering a huge chunk of CDs from the UK, the cost of postage gets prohibitive. Up in the 30% zone. My brief when ordering these titles was that they were not available from a huge retailer like Amazon.com, or by their many individual dealers.

By the mid-80s I had come to realize the large artistic differences between John Foxx and his old bandmates who still existed as Ultravox. Certainly by 1985, when Ultravox’s vocalist Midge Ure released a sappy solo album apart from Ultravox, that put my attitudes toward both of them into sharp relief. It was at that point that I began to value Foxx more. Of course, he responded by dropping out of music for a good dozen years! When he returned to the fray in 1997 with two albums at once it was like a huge musical drought in my life had been banished. But that wasn’t the half of it! Foxx had not sat idly for a dozen years; he just didn’t release anything. On his website, he published proposed albums that seemed like a huge amount of material to release according to his plan, but by this time all of those albums have seen release, in addition to many more albums that weren’t so well planned in advance.

As a Foxx collector, it gets to be a bit much, with 3-6 albums of new material getting released per year. The last two years I’ve kind of held back as I was finishing off many vinyl collections, and CDs just get shoved to the back of the line. This summer, something snapped, and I ordered almost $200 of the more difficult to score new material of the last few years. Here’s a quick overview.

Metamatic | UK | CD | 2008 | META18CD

John Foxx: Impossible UK CD [2008]

  1. Adult Concerns
  2. A Million Cars
  3. From Trash
  4. Impossible
  5. Friendly Fire
  6. X-Ray Vision
  7. The Man Who Dies Every Day
  8. Walk This Way
  9. Dislocation
  10. Drive
  11. The One Who Walks Through You
  12. Crash And Burn

A “live” album in a limited edition of 1000 copies. Since returning to activity, Foxx has released a bevy of “live albums” These are either “live in the rehearsal studio” recordings recording the live arrangements of material without an audience, or actual albums recorded in concert. This one is the former. The new full-electro arrangement of “The Man Who Dies every Day” is a killer!

Metamatic | UK | CD | 2009 | META21CD

John Foxx: My Lost City UK CD [2009]

  1. Imperfect Hymn
  2. Holywell Lane
  3. Magnetic Fields
  4. Just Passing Through
  5. Barbican Brakhage
  6. Hidden Assembly
  7. Hawksmoor Orbital
  8. Piranesi Motorcade
  9. City Of Disappearances
  10. Umbra Sumus
  11. Scene 27 – Intro To The Voice Behind The Wallpaper, Trellick Tower 3am

Foxx solo. Instrumental recordings, more focused than ambient.

Metamatic | UK | CD | 2009 | META24CD

John Foxx: The Quiet Man UK CD [2009]

  1. The Quiet Man
  2. A Man Made Of Shadows
  3. Cathedral Oceans
  4. The Grey Suit
  5. Shifting City

Spoken word + ambient piano. Justin Barton reads from Foxx’s “unpublished novel” while Foxx provides delicate piano accompaniment. Foxx has used this “fiction writing” methodology to drive the thematic and lyrical content of all of his music post-1977. He writes extensively on themes that intrigue him artistically; dislocation, dissolution of self, invisibility, a return to nature, self-alienation. If you have a familiarity with his music of the last 34 years, virtually all of it had its origins in this work. Many phrases in this writing will be familiar to fans of his music.

Edsel Records | UK | 2xCD+DVD | 2010 | EDSX3009

John Foxx: Metatronic UK 2xCD + DVD [2010]

CD 1 | Electro Compilation

  1. Underpass (Extended Version)
  2. This City
  3. No-One Driving
  4. Burning Car
  5. The Noise
  6. Everyone
  7. When It Rains
  8. Automobile
  9. Broken Furniture (Single Version)
  10. Drive (Single Version)
  11. Once In A While
  12. From Trash
  13. Never Let Me Go
  14. Smokescreen
  15. Cinemascope
  16. Phone Tap
  17. Smoke

CD 2 | Live In Sydney, 2008 [tracks 1-8]

  1. Crash & Burn
  2. Uptown / Downtown
  3. The Man Who Dies Every Day
  4. Hiroshima Mon Amour
  5. Underpass
  6. From Trash
  7. Shadow Man
  8. My Sex
  9. Burning Car (Early Version)
  10. Underpass (Mark Reeder’s Sinister Subway Mix)
  11. Dislocated (Jussi Pekka’s Pointed On A Map Remix)
  12. 20th Century (Dubterror Vs Karborn Mix)

DVD

  1. Underpass (B&W Version)
  2. He’s A Liquid
  3. No-One Driving
  4. Smokescreen
  5. Underpass (Mark Reeder’s Sinister Subway Mix)
  6. The Noise (Live)
  7. Shifting City (Live)
  8. Underpass (5.1 Surround Sound Audio Only Mix)

Compilation. Good overview with studio/remix/live material and a DVD [NTSC!]. 5.1 fans will revel in the first 5.1 remix of Foxx’s non-ambient work with the Underpass surround mix. More, please!

Edsel Records | UK | 3xCD + DVD | 2010 | EDSJ9001

John Foxx: The Complete Cathedral Oceans UK 3xCD + DVD [2010]

CD 1 | Cathedral Oceans

  1. City As Memory
  2. Through Summer Rooms
  3. Geometry And Coincidence
  4. If Only…
  5. Shifting Perspective
  6. Floating Islands
  7. Infinite In All Directions
  8. Avenham Collonade
  9. Sunset Rising
  10. Invisible Architecture

CD 2 | Cathedral Oceans II

  1. Revolving Birdsong
  2. Shimmer Symmetry
  3. Far And Wide 2
  4. Ad Infinitum
  5. Quiet Splendour
  6. Luminous And Gone
  7. Stillness And Wonder
  8. Return To A Place Of Remembered Beauty
  9. Visible And Invisible
  10. Golden Green

CD 3 | Cathedral Oceans III

  1. Oceanic
  2. Through Gardens Overgrown
  3. Spiral Overture
  4. The Shadow Of A Woman’s Hand
  5. Radial Harmonics
  6. Serene Velocity
  7. Fog Structures
  8. Eternity Sunrise
  9. Harmonia Mundi
  10. City Of Endless Stairways
  11. In Rising Light
  12. Metanym

DVD | Cathedral Oceans III

  1. Oceanic
  2. Through Gardens Overgrown
  3. Spiral Overture
  4. The Shadow Of A Woman’s Hand
  5. Radial Harmonics
  6. Serene Velocity
  7. Fog Structures
  8. Eternity Sunrise
  9. Harmonia Mundi
  10. City Of Endless Stairways
  11. In Rising Light
  12. Metanym

Ambient vocal works. Foxx had been recording these ambient vocal pieces since 1983, but they remained unreleased until the first Cathedral Oceans album of fourteen years later. His stepping off point was Gregorian chant in vast ecclesiastical architectures, reclaimed from the Church for his own purposes. Packaging is a deluxe hardbound book with extensive liner notes and a DVD [NTSC] of the third volume remixed in 5.1 with visual accompaniment provided by slowly dissolving Foxx graphic images that were part of his art installation of this series.

Metamatic | UK | 2xCD RM | 2010 | META26CD

John Foxx + Louis Gordon: Crash + Burn UK 2xCD RM [2010]
CD 1 | Crash + Burn

  1. Drive
  2. Cinema
  3. Broken Furniture
  4. Crash And Burn
  5. Once In A While
  6. Sex Video
  7. Sidewalking
  8. Ultraviolet / Infrared
  9. She Robot
  10. Dust And Light
  11. Ray 1 / Ray 2
  12. Smoke

CD 2 | Bonus Tracks

  1. Making Movies
  2. Your Shadow
  3. Underwater Dreamsex
  4. Labyrinth Generator
  5. Broken Furniture
  6. Ultraviolet / InfraRed (Live From A Room)
  7. Nightlife (Live From A Room)
  8. Storm Warning
  9. Sex Video (Live From A Room)
  10. Broadway Submarine
  11. Dust And Light (Live)
  12. Invisible Women V2 (Live)

Electro duo songs. Since his return to recording, Louis Gordon has been Foxx’s most frequent collaborator. He has released many albums with Gordon, and now he has begun remastering them in two disc formats. Disc one is the original album and disc two is the supplemental material. There are some great non-LP tracks here that were only on a OOP single [“Drive”] as well as complementary live recordings taken from the OOP “Live From A Room As Big As A City” album of 2006.

Metamatic | UK | 2xCD RM | 2010 | META27CD

John Foxx + Louis Gordon: Sideways UK 2xCD RM [2010]
CD 1 | Sideways

  1. And The World Slides Sideways
  2. Underwater
  3. X-Ray Vision
  4. Car Crash Flashback V2
  5. In A Silent Way
  6. Sailing On Sunshine
  7. Use My Voice
  8. Neuro Video
  9. Phone Tap

CD 2 | Live In Cargo, London 2008 [1-6] + Bonus Tracks

  1. Intro
  2. Walk This Way
  3. Dislocation
  4. Travel
  5. Young Savage
  6. The Garden
  7. Haunted
  8. Running In Traffic (Full Version)
  9. Impossible (Jori Hulkkonen Mix)
  10. Neuro Video (Jori Hulkkonen Mix)
  11. A Room As A City (Extended Version)
  12. Freeze Frame (Extended Version)
  13. Impossible (Extended Version)

Electro duo songs. Disc two of this set is a great chunk of a 2008 show with a radical new arrangement of “Young Savage” re-morphed into pure electro, yet retaining all of its singular drive. Warren Cann spoke of this song being like a huge motorcycle that you just start up and hang on tight to ride through to the end. It still is!

Metamatic | UK | CD | 2011 | META28CD

John Foxx + The Maths: Interplay UK CD [2011]

  1. Shatterproof
  2. Catwalk
  3. Evergreen
  4. Watching A Building On Fire
  5. Interplay
  6. Summerland
  7. The Running Man
  8. A Falling Star
  9. Destination
  10. The Good Shadow

Electro group songs. John Foxx + The Maths is Foxx’s new band. The Maths comes down to Ben “Benge” Edwards, who is a player interested only in his vast array of analog synths. Oh, and Mira Arroyo of Ladytron guests on vocals and writing for “Watching A Building On Fire!” This album is flat out amazing! It’s the best album Foxx has released since “The Garden” and it’s the best sounding album he’s released since “Systems Of Romance!” Only analog synthesis sounds this magnificent. The collaboration has motivated Foxx to stray from his usual neural pathways for some incredible songs. This deserves a full review later, so I’ll stop here.

No, I won’t! Sweet Cheeses, here’s video of Stephen Mallinder of Cab Volt remixing “Shatterproof!!!!!”

!!!

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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11 Responses to Foxx Feeding Frenzy: Collecting Contemporary John Foxx

  1. Echorich says:

    My collecting, updating of my John Foxx collection is kind of running from the middle out. I recently got My Lost City and A Secret Life and they are both beautiful and otherworldly. I started with Mirrorball, which is just a brilliant collection of music. Two amazing sonic masters together and not only is it everything I hoped, but much more.
    Someday I hope Robin Guthrie will curate something like the Meltdown Festival and bring together some of the amazing artists he has worked with.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – I was in Athens, GA last Spring and came across copies of “Mirrorball” on CD and vinyl at Wuxtry, and I have to admit, I bought them both! As a Foxx/Cocteau collector how could I not? It’s amazing. That was the first time I ever bit for 180g vinyl, which, truth to tell, I’m disdainful of. Not that I’ll ever play my numbered copy, of course! It’s strictly there as a manifestation of the sickness.

      Like

      • Echorich says:

        I have to agree, the new audiophile vinyl is a load of crap in my mind.
        One last mention of Robin Guthrie… for now… When he produced some material for Ian McCulloch at the time of Ian’s second solo album I was really jazzed. And the finished work was quite good. I have always wanted to hear what he would do with a full on Bunnymen release. I think Robin Guthrie producing and performing with Will Sargent would be and ecstatic experience to listen to.

        Like

        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – re: 180g vinyl – they managed to find a way to make it cost more than CDs! Now it’s “hipper!” And still with surface noise and degenerative play! Give me virgin vinyl any day. A+M USA used to press just about everything in vv back in the 80s and it still sounds way better than this new trendy “hipster/$ucker” vinyl. The thickness of the record doesn’t matter as much as the quality of the vinyl it’s pressed in. It’s annoying how albums are turned into 4 sides of wax now in these, the end times. Flip the record every 2-3 cuts. It’s like every album has to be “Metal Box” now!

          Like

  2. Echorich says:

    Love the Metal Box analogy!!!
    Back in 1986, when David Sylvian released Gone To Earth, I ran out, bought it and then listened to it nonstop for 4 or 5 months. The sonic quality of the British pressing was wonderful! In the early 90’s I bought the album on cd and was cruelly disappointed that there was this high end hiss throughout. Most likely because of poor digital remastering, but it is to this day my best example of how virgin vinyl really is the best way to hear music. Of course digital recording and cd mastering has come a long way in 30 years. I have heard a few of these 180g releases and all I can think is “suckers!” I suppose if I bought a $2000 vaccum tube record player I would want to buy audiophile vinyl for it, but for my enormous album collection, my aging Technics 1200 and my simple Ion usb turntables do the job fine.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Absolutely on the great leaps of CD mastering. I remember doing A/B comparisons of my own ca. 2002 masterings of Simple Minds “Love Song” and “Sweat In Bullet” 7″ mixes from vinyl using my Digidesign hardware and it really blew away the comparative quality of the 1st UK remaster of “Sons + Fascination” versions of those tracks on pro CD. Of course, CD mastering has had a bell curve of quality if plotted over the years. The loudness wars have seen many current CDs sound inferior to their mid-80s counterparts.

      Like

  3. Gavin says:

    “My Lost City” and “The Quiet Man” are two of my favourites from Sir Johnathan of Foxx’s vast output,which I have to say I find hard to keep up with and in very recent years seem to be losing in appeal somewhat.
    I was fortunate to attend a few of the Quiet Man live performances,including one at the Apple Store in Regent Street,London.I think there may be footage online of some of these.
    My favourite memory of this period is at an art show at The Horse Hospital,London,which was a tribute to Foxx by other artists including Nick Rhodes and Gary Numan( I had to lend Gazza a keyboard stand!)-Foxxy hilariously encouraged me to steal his own cds from the small merchandising stall as the assistant had disappeared…needless to say I refused and waited around,but I did get a signed poster as a treat!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. JT says:

    I wouldn’t mind seeing an update to this post. Foxxy’s output is prodigious. For a fan, but not a Foxx completist, it’s good to have an old person’s guide to help choose what to cherry pick from his recent output.

    Like

    • postpunkmonk says:

      JT – I have started to make a comprehensive checklist/scorecard of his post ’97 material but I ran out of time! It will have many hours to do so and parse it all! But one day I’d like to have a Foxx checklist tab in PPM that had it all at a glance.

      Like

  5. Joe Christ says:

    I absolutely love The Quiet Man, it’s one of my favourite “ambient” albums and never gets boring!
    I also have found it hard to keep up with his later releases as they are so numerous.
    I was blown away by Metamatic when it first came out, I remember hearing Underpass on Radio One (UK) and thinking it was incredible (which it is) I ended up buying the single and later bought the double 7 inch of No One Driving followed by Burning Car which is my favourite Foxx track from that period.

    Like

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