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John Foxx: Metamatica, Urban Motets, Metatronic, Metadelic (unreleased) September 11, 2009

Posted by sjroby in Music.
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John Foxx: Urban Motets

John Foxx: Urban Motets

John Foxx recorded three albums as leader of Ultravox in the late ’70s and four solo albums in the early ’80s before disappearing from the music scene for several years. In the late ’90s he reappeared with two albums on his own Metamatic label, the ambient Cathedral Oceans and a collaboration with Louis Gordon, Shifting City. Since then, he’s released more than two dozen albums, including collaborations with several other musicians, interview albums, live albums, and more.

But there are a few that fans are still wondering about.

Back around 2000, the official Foxx website and its sister site, the Ultravox website, ran a news item about forthcoming Metamatic releases. No fewer than nine new albums were announced. Some were released over the next few years. Some… not yet.

John Foxx: Metamatica, Metatronic, Metadelic

John Foxx: Metamatica, Metatronic, Metadelic

The ones that have been released:

  • The Pleasures of Electricity, a collaboration with Louis Gordon, appeared in 2001
  • the definitive edition of Exotour appeared in 2003 as part of a two-disc set with a 1983 live recording, The Golden Section Tour/The Omnidelic Exotour. (In October 2009, the Exotour material will be reissued as bonus material for the Shifting City reissue; an expanded collection of Golden Section Tour material will be released as a new live album, In the Glow. )
  • Cathedral Oceans II was released as part of a two-disc set with a rerelease of the first Cathedral Oceans album.
  • the two collaborations with Harold Budd, Translucence and Drift Music, were released as a two-disc set, Translucence/Drift Music (but with different tracklistings — whatever happened to “Reassembling”? was it retitled?).

But we haven’t heard anything about four other albums in some time.

Metamatica was described as “Rare tracks and previously unreleased material written and recorded at the time of John’s ground-breaking Metamatic album.” It’s possible that much of this ended up as the bonus material that made up the second disc of the 2007 reissue of Metamatic. Likewise, Metatronic, “A compilation of some of John Foxx’s best electronic pieces together with tracks and versions not previously released during the years 1979 to 1999,” and Metadelic, a companion piece to Metatronic featuring Foxx’s more psychedelic music, may have been replaced by the bonus discs on the reissues of his other “80s solo albums.

The great lost album is Urban Motets. The news feature had no tentative cover art for the album, but it did have a tracklisting:

A Charmed Life
Twilight Avenues
Finsbury Square
Arriving
As Best I Could
Lost Apartment
Unspecified City
Watching the Patterns in Passing Crowds
I Will Always Meet You
A Many Splendoured Thing
Summer Lover

There was some speculation that this year’s album of archival material, My Lost City, might be Urban Motets by another name, but that’s been debunked. One reason for the suspicion was the former’s cover art, a reworked version of the Urban Motets cover, but that image was also once planned to be the cover of The Pleasures of Electricity. More importantly, the description of Urban Motets (“Sparse, minimalistic and lyrical solo piano pieces. A reflective approach to improvised music”) doesn’t fit My Lost City.

As of 2009, there’s no word of a release of any of these four albums. Instead, we’ve had four other new albums; we’re getting three albums of mostly reissued material (visit this space in October), and we know of at least half a dozen other projects with no release dates attached. But Foxx (or his people) no longer provides tentative album cover art, or tentative tracklistings, for albums that aren’t on the immediate horizon, leaving more to our imaginations.

But still… I want Urban Motets. And if Metamatica had a lot of still-unreleased music, like some of the stuff that’s been floating around on low quality bootlegs as Metamatic Demos and The Bed soundtrack and whatnot, I want that, too.

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