John Foxx is one of the pillars of the original ’80s British synthpop scene, initially crossing paths with Brian Eno and Krautrock producer Conny Plank, influencing Gary Numan and more recently a whole new generation of electronic musicians like The Orb, Leftfield, Miss Kittin and Aphex Twin.
But Foxx has always been the not-so-synthpop fan’s dream choice, as although he was part of Ultravox for a time, at least until 1979, it was not until he left them that they got into their massive pop hit phase. Foxx then took another path, going on to explore and refine his love for the crystal clear synthetic sound, along with his observational style lyrics. It started with his first release in 1980, Metamatic, which explains the name of the record label Metamatic Records that hosts this latest album, making Evidence a truly independent release. And indeed it provides further evidence that, where others have burned or fizzled out, John Foxx has continued to take strides forward as a musician and artist to pursue and expand his ‘future now’ vision.
Then there is the issue of ‘And The Maths’; you mean John Foxx needs a collaborator? Further investigation reveals that the Maths part of this audio outing indicates a team up with experimental electronic producer Benge. Certainly this seems like a good idea, for Benge has an impressive background in electronic music with his own label, vintage synth collection and production credits on the Serafina Steer album Change Is Good and albums by Hannah Peel and Beth Jeans Houghton. The inclusion of ‘And The Maths’ signifies Foxx emitting a contemporary edge that makes him more relevant than ever.
That contemporary edge doesn’t stop at the Maths however. This album takes things further, including further collaboration that highlights some of the beat electronic musicians hanging around for the ’10s. Brighton’s intriguing performance artist/electronic music combo protagonist Gazelle Twin appears on the otherworldly Changelings and the beautifully haunting A Falling Star. Matthew Dear does his Texan tinged drawl, accompanied with fresh tech sounds, on Talk Beneath Your Dreams. And analogue obsessive Tara Busch pops up on Talk (I Speak Machine Mix). There is also the matter of title track Evidence, on which The Soft Moon appear. A strong track with some fantastic rhyming, it sports couplets such as automatic and static, securicam and 5am. You can tell that it was written when there was a real sense of inspiration and possibilities.
By contrast Have A Cigar is one of the weaker tracks on the record. It’s the boastful story of success track, but the lyrics are rather trite and annoying in comparison to John Foxx’s usual enigmatic and insomniac influenced mutterings: “Come here dear boy / Have a cigar / you’re going to go far”… then it goes on to rhyme fly with high, die and try. Still, the vocals are filtered through an interesting vocoder effect that is worth hearing.
One slightly dodgy track amongst many bewitching ones is a good ratio to have. Evidence indicates imagination, style, flair and a concerted effort that produces an enthralling musical form. On this evidence, John Foxx And The Maths have only just gotten started. Welcome to the ’10s.