John Foxx and Louis Gordon have been working together for almost 10 years now, their collaborations yielding four albums. Their last work, 2003’s Crash And Burn, preoccupied itself with technology, its rhythms coming across as a little clumsy in the process, but Gordon has been an extremely positive influence on this side of Foxx’s musical development, just as Harold Budd has been as his partner in more ambient noodlings.
Nevertheless Crash And Burn turned out to be something of a prophetic record. Since then many an artist has tried to take the electro direction, with varying degrees of success. Then it sounded like another unsuccessful foray, an attempt to achieve some dance cred, but now it sounds like a signpost others have followed.
However the pair have reigned in the excesses of that record, and tempered some of the darkness it traversed. From Trash, then, may have its dark side – the title is an indication of that – but it’s a far more accomplished and varied record, taking a measured approach that achieves more control without compromising on any emotion.
Foxx’s deadpan vocals are still a feature but there’s more melody to be found. While tracks like Freeze Frame sound more formulaic and could easily be plucked from previous records, the moving Never Let Me Go finds a slow, subdued grandeur, with an electronic pulse supporting Foxx’s vocal and a slow travelling harmony. It’s strongly reminiscent of an early Peter Gabriel solo effort, and subtly moving.
Beatsmith Gordon has honed his style too. The clattering excesses now occur very rarely, tamed just enough to achieve a definition in the form of Depeche Mode. The rhythms are still a bit stilted though, and though it’s not certain as to their dance floor intentions they don’t quite move the feet as Foxx does the soul. With less obviously cinematic textures this time, the tones him and Foxx secure are brighter, more obviously optimistic.
A qualified success, then, with the prolific Foxx finding the right balance between upfront electronica and background ambience. He continues in good musical health.