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D’Agostino/Foxx/Jansen: My Secret Life (2009) March 29, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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secretlifeBegun as a collaboration between John Foxx (once of Ultravox) and Steve Jansen (once of Japan), the original recordings for this album reportedly gathered a little dust while Foxx worked on other projects, and it was Steve D’Agostino who reworked and completed the album. Though it’s the work of three people, this is sparse, quiet music. Jansen played gongs, Foxx played piano, D’Agostino added some electronics. It’s ambient music, sometimes leaning a little closer to the isolationist end of the ambient spectrum (i.e., more about noise and texture than melody), but if it’s not as effortlessly pretty as a Harold Budd album, it’s never as harsh as the more extreme isolationist artists.

Foxx’s piano is reminiscent of both Erik Satie and Harold Budd, but it’s only one part of the mix, often not there at all. Instead, there are sustained drones, chimes, and occasional electronic sounds, against which Foxx occasionally places brief melodic passages. It’s very subtle though at times unsettling music. It reminds me a little of some of The Caretaker’s hauntological recordings, in which moments of melody are dimly perceptible through drones and smears of sound, but this is probably more accessible to the average listener.

Jansen’s gongs make this album easily distinguishable from Foxx’s past forays into ambient. Unlike the Cathedral Oceans albums, there’s no singing of any kind, and the feel and texture are very different from those of Translucence/Drift Music, his Harold Budd collaboration. It’s possible that some Foxx fans might find this album harder to get into; I’m not sure what Jansen fans would make of it, because I’m not very familiar with his post-Japan work. D’Agostino is a relative newcomer, but I’d certainly be interested in hearing more from him.

If this album has any shortcomings, the main one would be its length. At only 36 minutes, it’s in no danger of overstaying its welcome, and I would gladly listen to more of this.



1. Joao - April 11, 2009

Jansen’s first name is Steve, not David.
David is his brother (Sylvian).

You must listen to steve work. Very good.

Bye from Lisbon


2. sjroby - April 11, 2009

Damn. Don’t know how I did that, because I have a few Japan-related albums, and I normally remember the difference between Steve Jansen and David Sylvian just fine. Thanks for pointing that out.

3. steve d'agostino - January 21, 2010

Hi sjroby
I was alerted to you kind words by a friend, thanks for this,it is much appreciated.
I have a soon to be updated website and an on going blog if you are interested, basic but ongoing.

Thanks Steve D’Agostino


4. sjroby - January 21, 2010

Hi, thanks for the reply. I’ve looked at the website a couple of times already, but I’ll add the blog to my regular reading and keep an eye out for updates to the site.

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