A Quiet Man?

Even by his own standards, John Foxx is having a prolific year. This month, he released his fourth album of new material of 2009.

First, there was "My Lost City". A set of instrumentals which those who have followed his recent career might subtitle "Cathedral Oceans Vol. 4". Very minimalist.
Then there were two collaborations. Next came an album with Steve Jansen (ex-Japan) and Steve D’Agostino who joined Foxx and Gordon on stage for the tour in which John revisited Metamatic last year. This one was entitled "A Secret Life".
It was followed by "Mirrorball", a set composed and recorded with ex-Cocteau Twin Robin Guthrie.

This month’s release is "The Quiet Man". Foxx has been working on this since his days with Ultravox! – their song "The Quiet Men" was the beginning of the evolution of non-linear short stories about a man in a grey suit who passes through cities unnoticed. Read by Justin Barton over Foxx’s ambient soundtrack, these are beautiful and evocative. A good argument could be made for Foxx having read these on the audio himself in his Mancunian drawl but otherwise it is difficult to fault this. After a while you get used to Barton’s received pronunciation and the themes of the "stories" wrap you in their mystery.

Foxx hasn’t been quiet on other fronts either. The Horse Hospital in London was home for his recent art exhibition, "DNA", and some remastered albums and performance are due in October.

Soon, the horse will take us to Durango

Today, I woke up in a hotel in Leeds. Back in the day, I used to come to comic fairs here. Buying up back issues of Batman and the Flash. Then it was called the Griffin Hotel. Now it is called the Discovery. Last night, I lay in my bed reading a back number of the Justice League of America fron the 1960s. Nothing much has changed. I’m in town for the John Foxx performance of the Quiet Man which happened last night at the Leeds Town Hall. Ate at Wagamamas and then went on to the show.
So what is the Quiet Man? In 1978, when he was lead singer in a band called Ultravox!, John wrote a song called "The Quiet Men" around the concept of shadowy individuals in grey suits who drift through cities unseen and unnoticed – the ordinary man on the street , if you like. He then began work on a book of short pieces of prose about the Quiet Man which he has been working on to this day and which remains unpublished. Last night was the debut performance of a film designed and developed around the concept of some of these short "stories" which John accompanied on acoustic piano (albeit accompanied by synthesised strings) whilst a pre-recording of a reading of one of the prose pieces was played. It was a privilege to be there.
In total, three pieces were performed and portrayed. The first was simply acoustic piano, film and pre-recorded reading and I found it the best of the three. The Quiet Man is seemly alone in a broken down culture, exploring and re-ordering its pieces as nature takes back the land. Fascinating.
The second had Foxx on Synth, whilst John ‘Karborn’ Leigh remixed and overlaid video clips live from the stage as the reading progressed.
The third was read ‘live’ by Foxx from the stage as the video played in a linear fashion.
The performance lasted under an hour but seemed much longer. Rich, fruitful, thoughtful.
Questions and answers followed and I took a full part.
I’ll try to post some pictures later.