Album Review by Mark Bayross
Born Dennis Leigh in Chorley, Lancashire, John Foxx is a man for whom the conventional never held much interest. An academic, as a musician, he is as much influenced by the visual arts as by music, and as a careerist pop star he is hopeless. Not only did he famously leave Ultravox before they exploded onto the top of the charts in the early eighties, but he turned down offers to both front the post-Bryan Ferry Roxy Music and to join The Clash.
Nonetheless, the solo career he has carved for himself has seen numerous critically acclaimed releases, a brief early flirtation with the Top 40, and the kind of cult status no amount of money can buy.
CRASH AND BURN sees John Foxx team up with fellow electronic musician (and long time fan) Louis Gordon for the third time since 1997’s SHIFTING CITY and last year’s THE PLEASURES OF ELECTRICITY, and finds the duo once again in a world of stuttering rhythms and sparse, jet black washes of melody.
From the sleazy electro-funk of ONCE IN A WHILE and potential darkwave club hit SEX VIDEO, through to the more aggressive proto-industrial of opener DRIVE and the title track, this is retro machine music borne of Kraftwerk, Cabaret Voltaire, early Front 242 and every other Northern European art terrorist outfit that felt the need to escape from their dystopian surroundings with synthesisers rather than guitars.
Obviously for the man who co-created Ultravox, there are plenty of similarities to other pioneers of electronic music. SIDEWALKING is prime Numan, DUST AND LIGHT sounds like David Bowie filtered through early EBM, while RAY 1 / RAY 2 manages to fuse Vince Clarke robo-bounce with what sounds like ska punk. Very odd.
Given the current electroclash-driven early eighties revival, John Foxx may just find himself fashionable again, but I’m sure he’d be horrified by that idea. CRASH AND BURN finds the balance between catchiness and inaccessibility that should keep him on the margins where he seems most comfortable.