John Foxx + Steve D’Agostino Release Travels Backward In Time!

Metamatic Records | UK | CD | META53CD | 2014

Metamatic Records | UK | CD | META53CD | 2014

John Foxx + Steve D’Agostino: Evidence Of Time Travel UK CD/LP [2014]

  1. The Forbidden Experiment
  2. Evidence Of Time Travel
  3. Who Can Resist A Twisted Kiss
  4. Rhapsody In Flames
  5. A Blurred Line Of Fiction
  6. Impenetrable Inevitable
  7. Surgical Precision
  8. The Tearing Sound Of Smiling
  9. Momentary Miracles
  10. Collision Architecture
  11. Empty Clothing Blows Across A Beach

Sacré Bléu! This album was scheduled for release on October 6th, 2014, but copies have obviously entered a wormhole and emerged in this universe several weeks early, just in time for my recent birthday. My wife thoughtfully ordered the CD and LP [500 pressed] of this new collaboration with frequent creative foil Steve D’Agostino and I’ve been listening to this for several days now. In the project, Foxx takes a Radiophonic turn to the dark side of the moon and beyond in his full analog jacket, with a crepuscular, glitchy bent for a late 60s science fiction vibe. Fans of Gil Mellié’s soundtrack to “The Andromeda Strain” will have much to love here, though the music is far more rhythmic.

Often the album has multiple rhythm tracks overlaid like chittering insects with deep chords providing a depth to the compositions. Fans of the Roland CR-78 will be able to easily trainspot it in the mix, as several tracks harken back to”Metamatic” era B-side experiments like “Mr. No” or “Film One.” But where those tracks were “Pink Floyd” or “Black Sabbath,” the dryly objective material here plays its cards close to its vest. Its interests lie further afield from “rock.” The credits on the back of the CD booklet outline a staggering amount of rhythmic devices used here, neatly broken down in to auto rhythm devices, programmable rhythm devices, and finally, manually triggered drum modules.

The methodical, percolating rhythm beds dominate the proceedings here. They build up their relentless wall of tension to better let the melodic elements drift like anxieties over the open transom. The clinical results pack more of a punch, paradoxically, than did a more heavy handed 1980 cut “Film One,” though it was an obvious stepping off point for these excursions. The titles reference earlier Foxx lyrics, suggesting that this was a case of revisiting earlier work with a far more different slant on things. As such, the feel here sometimes enters into Cabaret Voltaire territory in terms of the level of sonic threat.

The track “Rhapsody In Flames,” a Bill Nelson title if ever there were one, reminds me that the single time that Foxx and Nelson collaborated, was on the occasion of the Harold Budd “farewell” concert in 2006. The pieces here may superficially resemble Nelson instrumental canon of the mid-80s, but whereas Nelson dashed those tracks off as quick sketches, the material here is far more carefully rendered. The two artists are much beloved by me and one would have thought that they might have crossed paths earlier as well as later, since they both share a taste for science fiction kitsch. However, Nelson’s more utopian strains would be out of place on this particular project. It’s definitely coming down on the dystopian side of the map.

Still, it’s the quieter cuts like “The Tearing Sound of Smiling” actually provoke greater unease than do the more relentless cuts, such as “Surgical Precision.” The former has what seem like subliminal human vocals buried deep in the mix, though they may just be heavily treated synth loops. This project primarily invokes soundtrack material, but some non-OST work would be a touchstone as well. In particular, I am reminded of Chris [Throbbing Gristle] Carter’s excellent 1980 release, “The Space Between.”

Tracks like “Collision Architecture,” as sampled above, function like early John Carpenter soundtracks, albeit carried out with more talent and flair. Whereas Carpenter had a workmanlike grasp of his [equally vintage] equipment, Foxx and D’Agostino bring greater musical chops to the brief, resulting in this album as a best-of-breed approach to a dystopian science fiction film that was never made in the late 60s [from an unpublished Philip K. Dick novel].

All of the tracks here are brief and to the point, with only the final track, “Empty Clothing Blows Across A Beach” crossing the nine minute line with a lighter touch revealing dubspace DNA that allows the mood to build slowly over its running time rather than quickly make its point as do the other tracks. With its evocative high-contrast, glitched video still packaging, “Evidence Of Time Travel” shows Foxx exploring some points he’s touched on briefly before [early B-sides, John Foxx + The Maths instrumental tracks] but massaging the material into a darkly cohesive whole that fits together like a stainless steel fist in a black leather glove. Be prepared for impact.

– 30 –

About postpunkmonk

graphic design | software UI design | remastering vinyl • record collector • satire • non-fiction
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8 Responses to John Foxx + Steve D’Agostino Release Travels Backward In Time!

  1. Echorich says:

    Looking forward to this one…might be the cherry on top of quite a decent year of releases from acts I like or have discovered. The samples bode quite well for my liking.


  2. Echorich says:

    It is definitely not music for cooking by…


  3. In the socialist Monk household, all workers contribute to the means of production for glorious proletariat communal mealtimes!


  4. Gavin says:

    I only recently bought this album,on cd.I love it-your review is spot on so I cant add much,except that it is the closest thing to Metamatic-era lost tracks as I have ever heard.Not heard the new 3-cd Metamatic yet,with the unreleased stuff.
    I agree that there are places where is sounds quite like Cabaret Voltaire,which is great as they are part of my core collection.
    I also have a lovely booklet printed and designed by Karborn which accompanied the project at the time of the performances I believe.Some of it is contained in the cd artwork.All in all a great release I think-I am not a huge fan of JF & The Maths,but this project is superb.


    • postpunkmonk says:

      Gavin – It’s probably more like the Metamatic-era lost tracks of your mind than the unreleased material on the new DLX RM. Which I am currently chewing on. Disc 3 maps out some tributaries he would later act on [many years later] with “Tiny Colour Movies” in particular, but there are many minimal synth soundtrack items as well as Satie-esque material where a rare piano manifests! Perhaps the Budd influence.

      My wife bought me the LP/CD of this…twice! She got it for me as a surprise, and did the same when my birthday rolled around later in the year. So I have sealed duplicates of this one in both formats. Not a huge fan of John Foxx + The Maths?! Check your pulse and get thee to a physician!


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