by Ben Hogwood
What’s the story?
John Foxx is very much back on the radar. His musical activity for 2023 begins with a limited edition, album length release. Avenham is documented as being ‘inspired by a place he knew as a young man but it’s more than a location. It’s less defined, more dispersed and mysterious than that’.
This intriguing text that will draw in fans of the instrumentalist and one-time Ultravox member, who has in his solo career shown himself to be a multi-disciplined musician. Avenham fits into a line of releases including London Overgrown, My Lost City, the revered Drift Music with Harold Budd and the Codex album as part of the Ghost Harmonic trio.
“Avenham is a real place”, says Foxx, “that’s also as mythical as the gates of Eden. So the music is likewise nebulous and impressionistic – a view from here to a time which occurs in almost everyone’s life, when the world becomes a radiant place of infinite mystery and promise – and everything seems possible.”
What’s the music like?
A mixture of serenity and activity. The relatively ambiguous accompanying text is helpful, for it means the listener can create their own Avenham. For this particular listener it feels like a green space, rich in both light and shade, a place of fertile ground but also slow-moving growth – all things that are reflected in the cover image.
Regular Foxx listeners will feel at home in the elegant lines of On Waking, a timeless evocation – unlike Ampurias to Ithaka, which is more obviously a distant relation of 1980s synthesizer music, with a slightly manipulated treble sound complemented by piano. Dream Through Trees is particularly lovely, a string-based composition with dappled textures, while time stands still as the single melodic lines of The Best Of Us spin silvery webs. Avenham itself carries more weight, while A Murmuration provides one of several moments where the influence on Moby’s longer ambient music can be discerned.
Does it all work?
Yes. Avenham is the ideal accompaniment for meditative thoughts and exercises, and is confident enough in its own abilities to often operate completely without a bass part. As a result it offers a uniquely weightless sound.
Is it recommended?
It is. As we eagerly anticipate Foxx’s first ever solo piano album, The Arcades Project, here is a more familiar side to his work. Avenham is a restful place for recharge and reparation.
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