Record Review: John Foxx + The Maths – Rhapsody

Metamatic | UK | CD \ 2013 | META33CD

Metamatic | UK | CD \ 2013 | META33CD

John Foxx + The Maths: Rhapsody UK CD [2013]

  1. The Good Shadow [Instrumental]
  2. Shatterproof
  3. He’s A Liquid
  4. The Running Man
  5. The Shadow Of His Former Self
  6. Hiroshima Mon Amour
  7. Interplay
  8. Burning Car
  9. Catwalk
  10. Just For A Moment

Released this month was another of John Foxx’s “live in rehearsal” albums. As different from more common live albums, these were not recorded in concert before an audience. These documents exist as snapshots of a parallel universe with alternative arrangements of old favorites recorded with different personnel in the mix in a controlled setting without crowd ambience. Foxx first did this in 1997 on the “Exotour” CD and the new arrangements and executions of decades old songs in his canon was greatly appreciated.

Given that this release follows closely on the heels of the “Analogue Circuit” CD/DVD released previous to this last fall, one might be tempted to say this was one to many trips to a familiar well, but the vital difference is that the “Analogue Circuit” project was recorded with a 2010 lineup that was lacking the participation of Hannah Peel, who added electric violin to the four piece lineup of The Maths that toured behind this material in 2011.

Her addition to the likes of “Shatterproof” take that song to a new, climactic dance of shiva with her processed violin vying with ridiculously fat and chaotic synths to give this track a new found power that takes it to new heights here. This song, on three CDs by John Foxx + The Maths, has never sounded better than it does here. Likewise, “He’s a Liquid” has seen many airings on various recordings over the years, but it’s never sounded better! The synths sound better and the addition of Peel on electro-gitch violin gives it a delightful new lease on life. Foxx’s phrasing on this track is also a delight as the old warhorse is discovering new facets to old friends like this song.

When “The Running Man” was recorded at the time of “Analogue Circuit,” the song had been yet to be released and as such, it had a tentative, prototypical quality that is absolutely not the case here. The electric pulse that the song is hung upon gives if an electric framework that is more confident and dazzling than on the earlier recording.  This four piece lineup featuring Foxx, Benge, Sarafina Steer [all present on “Analogue Circuit”] with the added violin and keys by Ms. Peel give this material a “go for the throat” quality that takes no prisoners. In many ways, the results are preferable to the “Interplay” album where half of this material comes from.

It’s a real treat to hear the venerable “Hiroshima Mon Amour” given a new life here with violin returning to the mix for the first time since the song aired originally with Ultravox in ’77-’79. The CR78 pulse remains the same, but Benge’s Simmons pads are new to the mix and the lack of saxophone is a plus to these ears. “Burning Car” gains new dimensions of sound here via the addition of Peel on violin. Her fadeout glitchnoise on the outro is a shocking new incorporation to the familiar Foxx classic.

I almost feel churlish to suggest this, but if any complaint may be legitimately leveled against this album it’s that while the tour that engendered it was for the group’s second “The Shape of Things” album, only one song from that release [“The Shadow Of His Former Self”] figures in the track listing here. The other nine tracks are all pulled from Ultravox, “Metamatic” and “Interplay.” It suggests a sense of missed opportunity, given the new and exciting developments that “The Shape of Things” album figured for the group. Even so, the embellishment that Peel adds to “The Shadow of His Former Self” live, on violin, make me hungry for more.  And it’s not just me. Foxx has stated that he looks forward to finally recording in the studio with Peel in the lineup for the band’s next opus. Until then, this will tide me over.

– 30 –

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6 Responses to Record Review: John Foxx + The Maths – Rhapsody

  1. Echorich says:

    I am loving this!! The immediacy of the tracks I’ve heard so far really vital. I am going to have to re-program my JF+M playlist to include quite a few of these!
    It’s becoming increasingly annoying to me that while Mr. Foxx has found his electronic muse and has been soaring to new heights with it, my other favorite, Mr. Numan has been wallowing in some sort of malaise or maybe fear of being cutting edge again. It’s lazy niche recording that Mr. Numan has chosen over taking chances. I shake my head…

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    • postpunkmonk says:

      Echorich – Funny you should mention Numan. He’s coming to my sleepy mountain town this October with his pal Trent Reznor for the first Mountain Oasis Electronic Music Festival… and thanks to obtaining the Machine Music DVDs last year, I could care less! A year ago and I might have been conned into buying a ticket!

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      • Echorich says:

        If only I could have seen the Pleasure Principle and Telekon anniversary tours I would have finished off satisfied.

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        • postpunkmonk says:

          Echorich – From what I’ve read, the Pleasure Principe and Telekon Tours served up that classic material in modern-a-go-go Nu Metal clothes. Best it never happened. The Pleasure Principle tour hit ATL and my wife asked if I wanted to go. I couldn’t justify it since I’m not the biggest fan of that album. Good thing it wasn’t the Telekon Tour or I might have taken the bait; to my regret. My classic Numan albums: Replicas, Telekon, Dance, The Fury, Strange Charm, Sacrifice. Those are the topliners for me.

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          • Echorich says:

            I have to agree, as much as I LOVE Pleasure Principle and Replicas, it’s Telekon that I ALWAYS pick as my fave. PP is second, The Fury is third…

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  2. Really looking forward to this — the Analogue Circuit CD/DVD was fabulous.

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