J0hn Foxx + Louis Gordon: Subterranean Omnidelic Exotour UK CD 
- 20th Century
- Burning Car
- This City
- Hiroshima Mon Amour
- Just For A Moment
- The Quiet Men
- An Ocean We Can Breathe
- Through My Sleeping
- The Noise
- Shifting City
This CD arrived in the mail yesterday and it’s been a long trek to the point where it is actually in my Record Cell. The dramatic re-emergence of John Foxx as a musical force again after a dozen years spent in his secret identity as graphic designer Dennis Leigh was one of the things that I had no expectation of in 1997 until I got the email from Rob Harris, keeper of the Foxx flame on the early internet and digital caretaker of metamatic.com to this day. The “Shifting City” album was released concurrently with another solo album of Foxx’s ambient project, “Cathedral Oceans.” Where “Shifting City” differed was in that it was a collaborative project with a new musical partner, Louis Gordon.
The “Shifting City” album took the various threads that always informed the Foxx solo career and allied them with concurrent, complimentary threads in the contemporary musical landscape like techno and DJ culture, which is what Gordon brought to the mix. The songs had the usual mix of Krautrock and psychedelia that I had come to expect from Foxx, but the increasingly traditional rock vibe that followed in the three solo albums that came after his seminal cold wave album had been banished for this re-emergence. The new, non-ambient work was like an exploration and exhuming of the cold wave exemplified by “Metamatic” and now given further experimentation.
There would be further injections of psychedelic DNA into the mechanized corpus that “Metamatic” represented as the idiosyncratic album was now fully transformed into a style to flesh out and explore. From 1997 to 2008, Foxx produced five studio and six live albums with Louis Gordon. The previously reticent Foxx mounted many tours of the UK and parts of Europe that got much documentation on the many live releases he issued on his Metamatic records. Some of these were live with audience but others were live in rehearsal recordings, which captured how the new duo translated both the new material and Foxx back catalog into contemporary performance.
The first of these discs was META 0003CD, the “Exotour” EP sold at the merch table to commemorate that first 1997 tour as recorded during rehearsals at A Certain Ratio’s Warehouse. I received notice from the Foxx mailing list that this was being issued in an edition of 1000 numbered copies and in the early days of the internet, there was a mad scramble to find a copy of this for sale. There was no convenient Foxx webstore and few retailers of note. Amazon.com was just starting out and this was way below their radar. I eventually succeeded and was rewarded with an amazing 5-track EP that showed the material substantially re-arranged in the 1997 live setting.
It was exciting to hear the dramatic changes wrought by the new duo approach. Digital technology had given Foxx a way to finally tour the kind of hard-edged electronic music that composed the “Metamatic” album era without compromise. It simply wasn’t possible in the original era. The familiar songs like “20th Century” or “Burning Car” had become transformed into entirely new constructions bearing little resemblance to the known entities.. New songs dropped effortlessly into the mix as if they belonged there the whole time [and they did]. You could have knocked me over with a feather when word came down the pike the following year that there was to be a new CD in the vein of “Exotour.”
“Subterranean Omnidelic Exotour” was to be sold at the merch table of the 1998 tour and it expanded upon the rehearsal EP released the prior year. This was an album with a dozen tracks, with the added bonus of a trilogy of Ultravox-era material in the middle of the set. This CD, however, was to be limited to a run of just half of that for the “Exotour” CD with 500 numbered copies. How I tried to buy a copy of this but it was not to be. When I finally found copies for sale in the dawn of Ebay, they eventually sold for a very healthy three figures. I soon lost all hope that this release would ever sit in my Record Cell with all of those other John Foxx discs that were actually affordable to me. Since I “collected” Foxx and he was my favorite artist, to boot, this represented something of a downer to yours truly. I resigned myself to the reality that I would never have a “complete” Foxx collection unless something were to unexpectedly and drastically change.
<fast forward 4 years>
In 2002 Edsel Records tossed fans a bone with this double live CD of John Foxx as recorded during his only phase one era tour in 1983, and with the second disc being all of “Subterranean Omnidelic Exotour” appended with the single track from the earlier “Exotour” EP not included on the full live in rehearsal album. So by 2002 I finally had the music to listen to, albeit in a different format. This eased the pain of not being able to own META 0004CD considerably, but in 2008 I joined the Discogs.com community and being of optimistic mien, I entered the release on my wantlist. In theory, whenever copies went on sale in the Discogs.com Marketplace, I would be notified in my feed there.
<flash forward 12 years>
On the evening of January 14, I saw my Discogs.com feed. It said “76 new items For Sale in your Wantlist” and as I am wont to do in these times of little money, I almost deleted it but then thought the better of it. I opened the message and scrolled and was rewarded with not one, not two, but three postings [all from the same dealer] of META 0004CD, who was selling the CD for the princely sum of £15.00. I thought to myself, “that can’t be right!” I hit the “details” link and was taken to the dealer’s store in Discogs. Sure enough. He had three copies still for sale. There’s often a point where a feed may list an obscure item, but when the “details” link is clicked, it will reveal that said item is now long gone. I couldn’t believe that no one else had yet scooped these bad boys up!
The next step? To investigate the dealer’s reputation. He had a decent amount of feedback that was 100% positive. His store in Discogs was not unlike mine. Mostly low-ticket items that he wanted to flip for a few £. There were the occasional items priced like the Foxx CDs at the high end of his spectrum at £15.00. By this point I was crowing to my wife about this shock occurrence and she, of course, admonished me to act immediately. And I did. Thankfully, there was a large cache of funding in my Paypal account as I was saving for my wife’s Moogfest ticket. This would be a setback of $30.00, but I felt it was certainly justified. And after I bought it I immediately messaged two friends of mine who were Foxx fans about the other two. One of them got another copy.
Engaging the dealer managed to reveal how this stroke of luck happened. He had seen Foxx live in London during the 1998 tour and bought three extra copies to send to friends in The States who had similar tastes, but best intentions being what they were, they ended up sitting on his shelf for 16 years. He posted them for sale and they lasted only brief minutes, but he was happy to give them a loving home at nothing more than his purchase price. May his karmic gift be significant.
So this now means that I have all of the numbered John Foxx editions of music. Now that I have the one CD I never expected to own, the floodgates are open to snap up everything else so that I might one day have a perfect collection of my favorite artist. You, me and the lamp post know just how unlikely that may be, but it’s something to shoot for in this fallen world. I just looked at my Discogs.com profile and see that I joined exactly six years ago on this day. A finer anniversary gift than this I can’t imagine.
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