Sunday, January 18, 2015


John Foxx carved out a dark urban landscape with this landmark of electropsychedelia.  After three groundbreaking albums ( Ultravox! ,  Ha! Ha! Ha! ,  and  Systems of Romance ) with Ultravox, lead singer Fox announced he was officially leaving the band:   "My focus was still London at the time. It seemed to be a city without its own mythology then, and I felt it might be my job to devise that - as far as I could. As for the band - I’d decided to leave much earlier – during the initial rehearsals for Systems Of  Romance.  I urgently wanted to get on with a purer form of electronic music that became Metamatic. After all the touring I’d realized I didn’t want to be part of a band – even one I’d created. I had to wait out all the commitments for that album, then when the last gig was over I told everyone that was it. I gave them the Ultravox name and caught a plane back to London and my wee store of synthesizers ... I'd already written much of the material for Metamatic. This was a point I'd seen arriving - electronic music as escape hatch from that rock lifestyle. (It's a personal inadequacy - have to go in for repairs too often to be a proper rock star. Need a bit of quiet now and again)...It was a great relief to be finally working quietly, lost in London, accumulating a tiny collection of electronic lifeforms and cycling down to the studio every morning in my grey mac. Wobbly but fun."

'Metamatic' was produced by Fox at Pathway Studios in London with engineer Gareth Jones.  The sessions featured John Foxx on vocals, rhythm machines, and synthesizers;  with John Wesley Barker providing additional synthesizers;  Jake Durant with additional bass.    Fox remembers:  
"Pathway was an eight-track cupboard in Islington, North London, owned by two characters who wrote Fire for Arthur Brown. Very basic, very scruffy, very good.   Gareth was a hippy Freudian BBC drop-out, and these were his first real recording sessions. He soon became an innovator. I was in retreat from bands, touring, etc. mightily convinced that electronics were the future, and reading too much J.G. Ballard.  I lived alone in Finsbury Park, spent my spare time walking the disused train lines, cycled to the studio every day and wobbled back at dawn, imagining I was the Marcel Duchamp of electropop. Metamatic was the result. It was the first British electronic pop album. It was minimal, primitive technopunk. Carcrash music tailored by Burtons."

The array of synthesizers used included the Minimoog, ARP Odyssey, clavinet, piano, Farfisa string synth, and Hammond organ.   Fox considers:    "Cheap instruments alter music - in the 1960s, effective guitars came into financial reach for the first time - and this changed everything. Synthesizers got to that point in the late 1970s. First cheap synths = Here we go...I also loved the bleepy, violent sound of synths and particularly drum machines - that cool, remote, alienated, defiant precision suited me perfectly. These instruments made shapes that fitted the ones waiting in my head...Electronic music is the bastard child of that sad old psychedelic revolution...I think [Psychedelia] informs everything interesting, and it’s the only thread that connects Breton to Dylan to Velvets to Cage to Can to Eno to Europe to Lennon to Burroughs to Ballard to trance to dance to Vogue to poetry to video to art to sci-fi to movies to performance to rock - to everything that comes in the future.  It’s a spontaneous, overlooked, folk activity, based on fun, magic, science and a gloriously misplaced trust in instinct.  It always insists on rebirth and regeneration and return to certain inalienable principles of unpredictability, spontaneity, utility, convulsion, fun, detachment allied to total involvement, episodes of sublime integration and alienation, tranquillity, serene velocity and feral expression of outrage.  When it’s not called psychedelia it gets adopted and renamed but it always seems to get sick and thin. That’s when you catch it sneaking back out into the street for a bit of daft fun."

'Metamatic' peaked at number eighteen on the UK album chart.


He's A Liquid

No One Driving

full album:

All songs written by John Foxx.

"Plaza" – 3:52
"He's a Liquid" – 2:59
"Underpass" – 3:53
"Metal Beat" – 2:59
"No-One Driving" – 3:45
"A New Kind of Man" – 3:38
"Blurred Girl" – 4:16
"030" – 3:15
"Tidal Wave" – 4:14
"Touch and Go" – 5:33

bonus tracks
"Film One"
"This City"
"To Be With You"
"Burning Car"
"Mr No"
"Young Love"
"20th Century"
"My Face"
"Like a Miracle" (alternative version)
"A New Kind of Man" (alternative version)
"He's a Liquid" (alternative version)

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