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John Foxx
DNA Nix Lowrey , October 26th, 2010 08:25

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It can be argued that John Foxx is a Janus-like creature, with two equally potent faces. Firstly, and better known, is the Pop Foxx, he of Ballardian visions and melodic minimalism. This Foxx is currently concocting a new collaboration with Synth Wizard Benge under the nom de jour John Foxx and The Math and, and is pretty much on vacation here. Instead, we get the equally compelling but arguably far more challenging face – Compositional Foxx, who has developed a series of cerebral, dreamlike collaborations such as 'Tiny Colour Movies' or 'Cathedral Oceans', with soundscape luminaries like Robin Guthrie and Harold Budd.

D.N.A. contains Foxx in 360, but focuses predominantly on the compositional work. There is, however, an obvious constant between all pieces: Foxx's voice and his narrative conjurations are missing. Instead he offers us a visual accompaniment, containing not stories as much as visual provocations, provided by some of his favourite film makers and animators, including Karborn, Steve D'Agostino and Macoto Tezka.

Many of Foxx's sonic contributions on this compilation are fragile wisps, barely structural gentle nuances, and the accompanying wistful colourfields provided by Steve D'Agostino on ‘Violet Bloom’. Similarly dream-like is the trio of pieces 'City of Mirage', 'Kaiyagura' and 'Over The Mirage' (the Budd and Ruben Garcia collab). All three feature reverie-inducing super 8-esque sequences focussing on water, winter and women, courtesy of Japanese film and Anime director Macoto Tezka.

Foxx's dream-tryptich closes with a pair of Jonathon Bambrook assemblages. Famed for his innovative and elegant graphic design and typography, Bambrook plays to his strengths here, creating visuals dominated by highly stylised fontage. He plays with our relationship with text: a propaganda-like bombardment of text pitting aesthetics against meaning, simultaneously inviting us to thread a narrative of sorts against the music.

Two lively interjections come courtesy of John Leigh, aka techno-fetishist and VJ Karborn with whom Foxx has extensively collaborated, and Ian Emes, of Duran Duran and Pink Floyd clip fame. Karborn's 'Maybe Tomorrow' seems to be a gentle joke, as both the visuals and Foxx's composition channel the chill-rave sounds of ye olde summer of love. Emes' visuals, especially those for 'Flightpath Tegel' and 'Secret Life 2’, are highlights. For the former Foxx ramps up the melodics in a Krafwerk-like paen to the architecture of travel.

It must be noted that without the visual cues these pieces have an unavoidably Eno-esque quality to them: still melancholic but also involving a profound sense of peace, of drift, ebb and flow. CD only track 'Phantom Lover' harks to the Metamatic Foxx more than any other track on the compilation. It is a potent reminder that in his moody electro songs Foxx spans both the conceptual and the infectiously melodic. Yet for some the track will be a reminder that what’s missing here is the power of that voice, and those lyrics, the Ballardian futurism and machine mythology. Whilst there is much to love in these more experimental of Foxx's work, the importance of his stories – in song, film and fiction - is underlined by their absence here, forcing us to create our own urban myths just as the Quiet Man stays silent.

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