14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
21st Century Foxx,
This review is from: Empty Avenues (Audio CD)
I'm not massively into the Ghost Box label aesthetic. Nothing against these guys but if you're gonna be "exploring the musical history of a parallel world" then it'd have to be pretty out-there to work, otherwise it becomes weakly generic. Plenty of the electronic music from our own non-parallel world is enough to be getting on with, making the parallel redundant. If you can't outdo, say Eyeless In Gaza's No Noise, Conrad Schitzler's Blau or the theme tune from the public information film where the kid and his mum go to buy new shoes and nearly get run over by the dad 'in his new car' - then what's the point?
Empty Avenues works though. It's a totally convincing work right from the opening seconds. It used to be that artists became a fading Xerox of themselves, but there's a lot of old dudes these days who are producing stuff as good as (or better than) what they done in their yoof, yeah? The Stones ran out of ideas after mid- 1968. On the other hand Tom Waits, John Cale, Leonard Cohen, Brian Eno, John Foxx - all free bus pass eligible - are producing really great work. David Bowie (another member of the 65+ club) recently released an album that was officially quite good in places.
Empty Avenues echoes some of the themes of Foxx's collaborative (and infinitely brilliant) work with Harold Budd, which explored (without lyrics) a kind of city-space at night psychogeography, with wonderful titles like Down A Windy Street, Nighthawks, Avenue Of Trees. The Foxx/ Budd collaborations are total genius and I play my favourites from them more or less daily so it was interesting to see this thematic similarity.
This record is very different from Foxx's work with Budd though. Standouts for me are:
Track 1 'Empty Avenues'. Lovely fat retro synth sound. Foxx admittedly does sound (in terms of the vocal treatment) very 1983 - but in a time travel rather than revivalist way. Lyrically this is fantastic stuff: "All that I can do/ Is walk these avenues/ down empty avenues". Avenues here being the routes life takes us, the choices that bring us to where we are.
Track 2 'Almost There'. Makes a great companion piece to 'Someone Almost There' from the Budd collaborations. Ghosty voice, quite soupy production. "I see your shadow in the rain sometimes/ someone who's almost there". Again, great lyrics.
Track 5 'The Time of Your Life'. Brilliant. "Here is the time we spent together/ look where the shadows stayed in the living room". Vocally seems to (deliberately?) reference Peter Gabriel. Utter genius.
Yeah so all in all a mighty fine record. A muted, crepuscular steampunk journey taking in love, aloneness, the nature of time, and the UK weather.
Highly recommended. Beyond expectations.