People that are older than me always talk about John Foxx being a massively hugely influential figure in the electronic scene. Groundbreaking they say. He is one of the key players behind this boxset I am having the pleasure of listening to. Add the genius of Harold Budd and the minimalist composer and pianist Ruben Garcia to the project and its quite the ambient melodic powerhouse. Not sure if powerhouse is the correct term for a trio of ambient albums but they are quite beautiful things.
This set brings together ‘Translucence’, ‘Drift Music’ and ‘Nighthawks’ on vinyl for the first time – three seminal albums from ambient / electronic artists (dons) John Foxx and Harold Budd (with ‘Nighthawks’ adding Garcia to the project).
I am sitting here enjoying these for the first time on a Sunday afternoon. It’s obviously autumn and its been a warm bright day. The first album in the series, ‘Translucence’ feels like that perfect accompaniment to getting in from being out. Melodic piano played gently and with touch with long reverbed sound stretching out in the distance. It’s beautifully mixed, played and just rolls around you. If you like the ambient works of Jonny Nash, Diego and co then this is for you. Recommended listening position – horizontal.
The second album ‘Drift Music’ holds back on the more obvious piano melodies and heads to a more treated take on ambience. Titles such as ‘Sunlit Silhouette’, ‘A Delicate Romance’ and ‘Coming Into Focus’ should give you an idea of where we are headed. Plus the fact that you are in very safe and learned hands in this field. It’s just warmth from start to finish. Recommended listening position – horizontal.
The final album in the box set sees Ruben Garcia join the fold. ‘Nighthawks’ is almost the perfect midpoint between the two previous albums. A mixture of treated sound and melodic piano with the sound being a lot more pronounced instead of drifting into washes of reverb. Again the clues to the sound are in the titles – ‘Music For Swimmers’, ‘From Then To Know’ and ‘Now That I’ve Forgotten You’ (sad). Recommended listening position – horizontal.
The artwork comes from Grammy winning designer Jonathan Barnbrook (he of Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’). As Barnbrook explains, “These are pieces that I return to again and again. Separate from his (John Foxx) more electronic work, they have a humanity and serenity that only comes with a great musician working in collaboration with others greats in an empathetic, understanding style. The music has a delicate, reflective quality – of human beings that have lived life and realise the beauty of it all, the joy and the suffering. They ask us to stop and consider, and that despite it all we should never desire to change a moment of it.”
I think he just reviewed the record in a way that I am incapable of. Reflective quality is very much what we have here. That and three albums of pure ambient gold from three masters. Fact Magazine have gone as far as saying, “‘Translucence’ / ‘Drift Music’ are some of the greatest ambient albums ever made.”
I love the follwing quote from John Foxx from the press release as it really sums up the wonders of making music (when it goes to plan) and the nature of these albums. “There’s this track on ‘Translucence’ called ‘Spoken Roses’. I still play it and think – I recorded that. It’s Harold’s music and I was lucky enough to be there to catch it from the air. It’s a truly splendid piece, a direct and beautiful interplay between sound and performance. True minimalism is concerned with isolating something dignified and beautiful, presenting it without unnecessary additions, so you can fully appreciate it.” Precisely.
As we said earlier, if you enjoy the quieter things in life this is a wonderful thing. Yours, horizontally, Apiento. x.