Sideways – John Foxx & Louis Gordon


Technicolour Modernism

Listening to the Music No-one Else Makes I smile my relief aloud and, drifting back, find myself at Olympia in 1967. It’s Christmas on Earth, and Gordon and Foxx have abandoned the burned out car they have been driving for too long, burst in through the psychedelic walls of hippydom and plugged in the synths buried under the heaps of kaftans and three-button suits along the crumbling walls. Armed with a Sound Collector, the agents have successfully gathered the echoes of the era and transduced them through the audio-Hedge that has grown up between the 14 Hour Festival and the Third Millennium. Forwards, Backwards. Sideways, at least.

Foxx has proved throughout his career time and again that his best work is that which is furthest from the mainstream. Sideways is so far away from that its from a different place altogether. A soundtrack for a strange low-budget B-Movie set in Xmal Deutschland somewhere, a place where you can see the polystyrene rocks moving as the Scary Monsters lumber past, their Rayguns held together by sticky-backed plastic and tape loops. Behind the safety of the bulletproof glass and away from the glare attracted by their diversionary lightshow, the agents have re-discovered their purpose.

With the clear rose-coloured hue of hindsight (and having let the glittering dust settle on 2006) I’d like to audaciously suggest that From Trash was a decoy, a model, programmed to distract our attention from the Secret Experiment that Foxx and Gordon were carrying out behind the closed doors of the MetaMedia Studios.

On pounding, rhythmic and cleverly vocalised tracks like X-ray Vision and In A Silent Way in particular, they revel in the freedom of sonic exploration and play around with a whole nervestorm of ideas, some of which (CarCrash Flashback, and Sailing on Sunshine at least) germinated in an Earlier Man about 20 years ago.

Or is that from twenty years hence?
Time means nothing. It merely re-arranges our memory.

Foxx has risen, it seems, from the very edge of self-destruction, and fulfilled a prophecy. His closing statement is a work of sublime genius. Phone Tap wouldn’t be out of place on Tiny Colour Movies, it’s such an evocative (and indescribably weird) piece of music that sounds like something from Quatermass. As ghostly torchbeams scan across the grey landscape, the Thing from Out Of Space[sic] emerges to a drone of deafening bass notes, punctuated by the analogue squeaks, squeals and squelches that have become trademark Foxx over the years.

If Bowie and the Beatles were asked to produce a ‘make’ for Blue Peter I like to think it would inevitably sound something like this.

Seems like the End of the Beginning will be an electronic happening after all…

9 out of 10. Smile-making.


For my money, this is the album Foxx and Gordon have been working towards for years.
Overshadowed and overlooked. Just as The Quiet Man would like it.

Standout tracks:

X-Ray Vision
CarCrash Flashback
In A Silent Way (Foxx & Gordon’s coup-de-grace?)
Phone tap


© birdsong 2007.

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