❚ “THERE’S A GREAT SURGE OF INTEREST in electronic music. I don’t know why that’s happened, but it’s fortunate for me because I did it a long time ago.” After three low-profile yet prolific decades as a graphic artist, photographer and teacher, the elder statesman of electropop John Foxx is curating Short Circuit, a festival of the best of British electronic music at London’s Roundhouse next week. The day-long event will see Foxx playing his original Moogs, an ARP Odyssey, an Elka String Machine and CR-78 drum machine in a 30th anniversary celebration of his debut solo album, Metamatic.
Foxx’s lyrics and vocal style characterised the original band Ultravox! (1974–79), whose 1978 album Systems of Romance, co-produced by Conny Plank, not only introduced the R-word into the post-punk zeitgeist, but set the mould for British electronica.
After going solo, Foxx’s stark and visionary 1980 album Metamatic, rendered on a range of synths and “rhythm machines”, yielded two futuristic chart hits he summarised as “carcrash music tailored by Burtons”. Two new songs Burning Car and Miles Away charted later the same year. As a pathfinder who imagined himself to be “the Marcel Duchamp of electropop”, he has always enjoyed cult status among the emergent new wave of electronic musicians.
A decade ago Foxx embarked on a new lease of life and Short Circuit will reunite him with former Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon to perform songs from Systems of Romance.
❏ Foxx wants his festival of electronica to capture the spirit of a concert he attended in 1967. “It was like a glimpse of the future,” says Foxx, who hitchhiked down from his native Lancashire to attend the 14-hour Technicolor Dream at Alexandra Palace in London. “I watched Pink Floyd with Syd Barrett, Lennon was around, and Brian Jones, and I saw European art movies like Un chien andalou for the first time — so it was really a life-changing event.” With its art displays, video installations and deejay sets, Foxx promises Short Circuit will be “a sort of hallucinogenic musical afternoon”.
30th anniversary boxset
❏ Metatronic is a wonderful survey of one man’s post-glam responses to urban dislocation through modernist music that can be as jarring as it is also seductive. Released this month as double CD, plus DVD of relevant promo vids including the early hits Underpass and No-One Driving