His affection for cool synth soundscapes enriched by a love of
nature and a strong Catholic mysticism, John Foxx has always been a
man of more depth than the new romantics he once inspired.
Fortunately, the many facets of Foxx's complex persona get a fair
representation on Modern Art, the second retrospective of his long
but interrupted career and a superior collection to the previous
Assembly. The remastered album manages to hit most of the essential
highlights, making it a fine introduction, yet won't be superfluous
to more dedicated fans thanks to a handful of sought-after
offerings from throughout Foxx's two decades as a solo artist after
leaving Ultravox. The former group of listeners will find the
one-two punch of "Underpass" and "No-One's Driving," off Foxx's
first album, Metamatic, a revelation, as both songs take
Kraftwerk's chilly precision to even colder, more alienated
extremes. From there, a slight warming trend is audible, as real
instruments began to support the singer' s stylish,
Bowie-influenced romanticism: his finest single, the sweeping
"Europe After the Rain," and even more prominently on Beatlesque
follow-ups like "Your Dress" and "Like a Miracle." For casual Foxx
fans, the story ended shortly thereafter when the singer retreated
from pop music in the mid-'80s. But he broke his long silence by
teaming with fellow synthesist Louis Gordon for a pair of albums --
represented here by the excellent, atmospheric "The Noise" and
"Nightlife" -- that revisited Foxx's minimalistic early-'80s
output. Even aficionados who own those two discs should find Modern
Art of interest, however, as it contains an eight-minute version of
"Shifting City" from Foxx and Gordon's mega-rare 1997 live CD,
Subterranean Omnidelic Exotour. And veteran collectors will be
delighted with the inclusion of "My Face," a robotic, Metamatic-era
outtake previously available only on a flexi-disc, as well as the
original single version of one of Foxx's biggest hits, "Endlessly."
Most importantly, despite its mixture of the familiar and obscure
and the 20-year time span of its contents, Modern Art offers a
surprisingly coherent play from beginning to end -- a testament to
the peculiar timelessness of Foxx's synthetic sound and spiritual
devotions. ~ Dan LeRoy
** What Records ***
||125 x 142 x 10mm (L x W x T)
Pop / Rock
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||Underpass - (studio)
||No One Driving - (studio)
||Burning Car - (studio)
||20th Century - (studio)
||Miles Away - (studio)
||Europe After The Rain - (studio)
||Dancing Like A Gun - (studio)
||Endlessly - (studio)
||Your Dress - (studio)
||Like A Miracle - (studio)
||Stars On Fire - (studio)
||Enter The Angel - (studio)
||Sunset Rising - (studio)
||Noise - (studio)
||Nightlife - (studio)
||Shifting City - (studio)
||My Face (From The Smash Hits Flexidisc) - (studio)
||He's A Liquid (12 Inch Single B-Side) - (studio)
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