John Foxx and Gary Numan goes minimal! First time collaboration


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Not really sure how to describe this new track from John Foxx’s upcoming compilation album. One thing is for sure it is collaboration we’ve all been waiting for – two of the giants and pioneers in electronic music comes together on this new track called Talk (Are you listening to me?).

From Facebook: Gary Numan: ”I’ve collaborated with my hero John Foxx on a song on his new album.”

The track kicks off almost as a minimal track with techno vibes and the characteristic vocals of Foxx and at this point in time we definitely view this as something new and forward looking, however half way through the track we are quite abruptly pulled back into something we’ve heard thousands of times before – the signum sounds and vocals of Numan, and honestly we can name 4-5 Numan tracks that are copied in into this part of the track.

Does this mean it is bad – no, it is quite enjoyable, but fair and square we could have wished for a little more of pushing the envelope when these two giants meet up. If the track had been built all the way on the first part and more consistently focusing on the repetitive stuff we may have been up for a bigger treat, now we are kind of left with two songs meshed together.

The track features on 21st Century: A Man, A Woman And A City, which is set for release on May 20 and takes in music old and new from John Foxx in all manner incarnations with Gazelle Twin, The Soft Moon, Cocteau Twins’ Robin Guthrie and more making appearances.

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In a recent interview Gary was describing how this collaboration came to be:

What brought on this collaboration? Was there a feeling that this has been a long time coming?

GN: It does feel as though, with our long history, that we should have done something together long before now. But, life has a habit of pushing you in directions you don’t always expect. John’s manager, Steve Malins [also Gary’s ex-manager and longterm friend], asked if I wanted to have a go at the track some time ago. I found it quite tricky to be honest. It’s quite an unusual structure and finding a melody and vibe that worked with the parts John had recorded took me a while. I was floundering for a few days, almost gave up at one point, but I really like the end result.

Here at Stereoklang we made an interview with John Foxx some time ago where we more in-depth discussed his musical career, music production techniques and inspirations, something that feels even more interesting as this 17 track compilation is about to be released.

suit1_tn-300x300In past interviews you talked about enthusiasm and excitement is fundamental for making music e.g. “only to touch a keyboard made excited”. – What makes you excited today and is the return to vintage synthesizers part of that?

I still get ideas as soon as the CR78 Drum machine gets switched on, and certain synths will do that too – The Vocoder Plus always generates a song idea and so does the Juno 60. The Arp is mainly used for completing the songs and generating extreme sounds.

I’ve lately begun to use granular synthesis – it’s really interesting, Quite violent on occasion. It may even be the true non-imitative voice of digital technology –and I’ve been waiting for that for some time. New technology is always expected to imitate a previous form, until someone demonstrates its unique properties. Formica was made to imitate wood, for instance, just as synthesizers were made to imitate orchestras – until we all decided they should make sounds not possible before.

What is your take on today’s electronic music scene? How has it evolved, what artists are pushing the envelope and are there any artists/bands that stand out in the crowd?

There is a fascinating electronic minimalist scene in New York – Xeno and Oaklander and Weird Records, for instance, and Lowfish in Canada. In England there is Ghost Box and Warp and Burial. I deeply enjoy what Ladytron do, and there are many other new labels and artists across Scandinavia and Europe. Tara Busch is capable of doing wonderfully alarming things, and Serafina Steer has made a beautifully eccentric album with Benge. I’ve also been interested recently in how guitars are being used as sound sources, often electronically cut-up, treated and reassembled almost into abstraction – Lonelady, Seafeel and The Soft Moon are all doing this, in various new ways. We certainly have more interesting music around now than ever before.

Much of the new wave/synth concept and especially the lyrics seem to have it roots in Ballard and other writers’ visions. They were some kind of prophets. Most of the new and innovative music of the 90’s and 00’s (IDM for e.g) is more abstract and instrumental and the prophets are the pills. – Did artists put more meaning into their work the 60’s and 70’s?

Well – chemically induced visions have been around ever since music has been made.

As for writers – Ballard and Burroughs have now been joined by new generations of writers, such as Paul Auster, Peter Ackroyd, Iain Sinclair, Kazuo Ishiguro and the rediscovery of seminal authors, such a John Cheever. Things have become more complicated and many writers are now attempting to map what is happening. But the abstract, non-literal side of music is equally interesting. Certain forms of dance and electronic music seem to be busy conducting a conversation in new abstract terms. This is very exciting. These new sonic hieroglyphs have created an international urban code. Every new recording is a reply to a previous statement, with participants all over the globe.

You can read the full interview here >>

Both Foxx and Numan were also interviewed back in 2011

About the track:

JOHN FOXX and GARY NUMAN collaborate for the first time. Available on the new 17 track John Foxx compilation album, ’21ST CENTURY: A MAN, A WOMAN AND A CITY’. Release Date – 20 May.
£9.99 as a PREORDER on Amazon – amzn.to/1oB4blR.

John Foxx (born Dennis Leigh, 26 September 1948) is an English singer, artist, photographer and teacher. He was the original lead singer of the band Ultravox, before leaving to embark on a solo career (with Midge Ure eventually taking his place in Ultravox). Primarily associated with electronic synthesizer music, he has also pursued a parallel career in graphic design and education.

Allmusic noted that Foxx “was one of those cult figures known more through the recordings of others rather than those of his own making. His detached, jolting vocal style inspired mainstream and underground artists across the decades, from synth pop superstar Gary Numan to electro-techno duo Adult”.

Gary Anthony James Webb, better known professionally as Gary Numan (born 8 March 1958), is an English singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. Born in Hammersmith, London, he first entered the music industry as the lead singer of the new wave band Tubeway Army. After releasing two albums with the band, Numan released his debut solo album The Pleasure Principle in 1979. Most widely known for his chart-topping hits “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” and “Cars”, Numan achieved his peak of mainstream popularity in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but maintains a loyal cult following.

Numan, whose signature sound consists of heavy synthesizer hooks fed through guitar effects pedals, is considered a pioneer of commercialelectronic music.