It’s been quite a year in terms of JOHN FOXX related releases and the EP ‘Empty Avenues’ presents yet another channel of output, this time in the form of a debut collaborative effort from Jim Jupp of BELBURY POLY (who also co-founded the Ghost Box label on which this release appears and did an amazing remix of MIRRORS’ ‘Lights & Offerings’) and Jon Brooks of THE ADVISORY CIRCLE.
JOHN FOXX and THE BELBURY CIRCLE are a unique combination, given the Ghost Box label champions its own strong themes and presents a definitive vision for nostalgia that is biased towards their own complex fictional world. The influences cited by BELBURY POLY are mixed, with various ingredients of the referenced psychedelic folk and analogue electronics coming through here, delivering a record in which all the elements are strikingly organic.
In terms of JOHN FOXX output, it is yet another dimension to his extensive library of workings. This time, the creative pool holds lighter waters of less depth and hardly any grit to speak of. Think a gentle sea spray, a fresh breeze and a generally uplifting essence that morphs between the tranquil pockets of air and a mild electronic current pushing towards ambient pop tones and some easy listening.
The title track is made up of light building blocks to form simplistic and structured steps that lead to an airy expanse in which one can happily drift in a dreamlike way. It sets the scene for the rest of the EP and true to form ‘Almost There’ is of similar construction, light and fluffy with the odd punctuation of shimmering synth tones, packaged alongside Foxx’s clean vocals. A temporary change in direction is suggested with ‘The Right Path’, in that it tries to crush more earth with its cathedral-esque intro. The electronic cravings become slightly more intense and develop through those additional layers. But that’s not to veer off the track too much – simplicity is the key to its listenability. ‘Time Of Your Life’, with its humble bass signatures still beholds lightness but this time with a more exotic twist within its melodic structure.
On the whole, those who are accustomed to some of JOHN FOXX’s solo work, and certainly that of THE MATHS, can expect a much more buoyant package here – ‘Empty Avenues & Dark Corners (Pye Corner Audio Mix)’ being the slight exception. The most promising track of the EP – it’s marginally heavier in substance, but could easily hail from the early nineties. Instrumentation wise, a slowed-up, smoothed over, classic house feel. The repetitive hooks are prominent, ever building before dropping back to pleasant contrasts of ever so fine fibres – those being the mainstay throughout the EP.
Text by Jus Forrest
Photo by Richard Price
29th August 2013