Imagine a city that has been left to the forces of nature and which, over the course of time, has become overgrown by a myriad of creeping plants. Imagine that city is London and you have the concept that underpins John Foxx's new album project.
'London Overgrown' isn't an album in the traditional pop sense, although it offers ten tracks individual tracks it owes much more to the classical tradition in that each track is a 'movement' in what is essentially one piece of music. The opening piece, Oceanic II, is a slow, lush, orchestral movement which very much sets the style for the rest of the record. It sounds pretentious to say that it sounds like nature but that's exactly what it does sound like, the music is slow and stately and somehow recalls huge objects moving - very slowly - with a grace and beauty that is at odds with their size. Over the duration of the track the music swells very slowly, beautiful with perhaps a creeping tendril of sadness running through it.
The pace now set, the 'London Overgrown' album maintains its course, presenting music that sounds like it has no edges, a rolling organic sound, at once ponderous and dignified as well as disquieting and sinister. The bass and the treble strands on 'The Beautiful Ghost' echo two distinct voices, something that carries through the remainder of the record. The addition of new instrumental 'voice' characterises the title track, while on the altogether simpler 'A Small Revolving World' the extra voices fall away, reduced to just one.
As the album continues, so the instrumental conversation continues while the music becomes gradually darker, the tracks stronger as they build through 'Everything Is Illuminated' and 'Persistence Of Vision' and come to a peak on the dark, bass-heavy 'City Of Mirage', a darkly sinister piece of instrumentation that somehow changes the listener's perception of sound in the same way that sounds change when the world is buried under a blanket of snow. It's elemental, a soundtrack to nature unchecked, dignified and slow but unstoppable and quietly malevolent before giving way to the altogether more optimistic, contemplative and almost pretty sounds of 'Imaginary Music'.
'London Overgrown' is an all too real soundtrack to an imagined apocalypse. It is darkly hypnotic, quietly soporific, deeply disturbing, unquestionably oppressive and utterly beautiful. Essential.
This Is Not Retro.
Oceanic II / The Beautiful Ghost / A Man, A Woman And A City / London Overgrown / A Small Revolving World / Everything Is Illuminated / Often Now, I Wake / Persistence Of Vision / City Of Mirage / Imaginary Music
'London Overgrown' is out now on CD and Digital Download.
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