Album Review
by SashaS

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  More on: John Foxx

Crash and Burn
  Album Review - 24-12-2003
John Foxx: 'Cathedral Oceans Volume III'
John Foxx: 'Cathedral Oceans III'
John Foxx: serene sounds as imposing as Everglades

If you care than you have to despair. Pop culture has been in doldrums for far too long and things are definitely not improving as we’ve been chronicling on this organ over the years. Well, we can confidently say it is taking turn for the worse with all these zeitgeist-friendly no-hopers. How else to read that Chris Moyles attracts 512,000 listeners more to the moronic Breakfast Show on Radio 1 than his predecessor?

Well, before the year that ‘Big brother’ was supposed to arrive - and we are not talking about the lame and soulless exposure of the maggots on ‘reality’ television but the great book about repression, oppression and controlled ‘freedom’, George Orwell’s ‘1984’, the future looked bright and its sounds were varied, brave and experimental. One of the guys who helped Krautrock become an English genre - John Foxx. [He’s still doing his magic and finally getting recognition for being the electro-pioneer.]

Founder of Ultravox! - half-decade before that diabolical pop-kitschy-smoochie ‘Vienna’ - Foxx [erm, Dennis Leigh] was ahead of time: his idea for ‘Cathedral Oceans’ - a project combing ambient music with photographs that slowly morph into each other to create the effect of a “moving stained glass window” - his then label Virgin [in those days as forward looking as Futurists] refused it claiming there was no market for that sort of music and no real category for it.

However, over the last two decades he’s staged ‘Cathedral Oceans’ in churches, botanical gardens and art galleries around Europe and it’s formed a self-contained exhibition at art galleries in Hoxton Square, London and New York. He’s also released ‘Cathedral Oceans I’ and ‘II’ through his own Metamatic label.

Foxx recently performed an improvised excerpt from the project with pianist Harold Budd (with whom he has recorded two albums, ‘Translucence’ and ‘Drift Music’) and guitarist Bill Nelson [ex-Be Bop Deluxe]. “The ‘Cathedral Oceans’ concert was almost a full mass. It was so beautiful it reduced me to tears,” Harold Budd said about the experience.

These 12 track here are generally speaking like Brian Eno flirting with ‘Requiem’: it is elegant, sparse, church inspired, in search of echoes, reverberations, cloistered sounds that are simulated and manipulated by “technology you [could] have in a suitcase.” It also recalls some spatial work of Tangerine Dream, the watery flow seemingly full of simplicity but deeply probing and intricate.

Titles of the pieces [although some are vocalised it is more choral than song-like] are intriguing and inviting: ‘Radial Harmonics’, ‘Serene Velocity’, ‘Fog Structures’, ‘Harmonia Mundi’, ‘City Of Endless Stairways’, ‘Metanym’… The music’s slow progression reminds me of Everglades, the actual river that travels at 1 mile per hour: you can’t notice it but it is changing all the time and merging into eternity…

When the sonics stop, alike after ‘Requiem’, you shouldn’t applaud but honour ‘CO III’ in a reverent silence.

The album, as much as it is striking, relaxing and thought-inspiring, is only half of the picture, as there are no visuals. This release will be followed by a DVD featuring all the images and music. [In meantime, an excerpt from it can be viewed at - second ‘sideway’ link.]


John Foxx’ album ‘Cathedral Oceans III’ is released 08 August 2005 by Metamatic/Fullfill