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// Tiny Colour Movies

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Tiny Colour Movies is John Foxx’s most interesting project since his choral, ambient Cathedral Oceans album(s). Here we find 14 pieces of music tied to movie shorts viewed by Foxx at a screening by private film collector Arnold Weizcs-Bryant in Baltimore, USA, with each piece of music given a detailed representation of its original conception in the CD booklet.

The first thing to say is that without having access to the movies, it’s sometimes difficult to tie up Foxx’s visual interpretation of the movies with his music. The explanations in the booklet, although interesting, are not really sufficient linkage; it’s therefore a pity that this could not have been made into some sort of audio-visual project

The album opens with the ghostly ambient track, Stray Sinatra Neurone – the subject of which is the discarded film stock collected by Max Forbert, a janitor that worked in several Hollywood cutting rooms. In fact, many of the film subjects appear fascinating, representing cities before dawn, time-lapsed images of skyscrapers, hybrid images of animals and humans, and dusty old Super 8 films. Other subject matter includes the unexplained phenomena of charred clothing found in London streets, movies of psychic transference experiments, and secret intelligence survey footage of the often bizarre behaviour of minor political and public figures in hotel rooms – yes, we need to see the films!

On a purely musical level, Tiny Colour Movies is also one of Foxx’s better albums, which have swung between some well known post-Ultravox eighties synthpop to the quite superb Cathedral Oceans series, and a collection of less appealing – some might say, disappointingly out of touch, electronic albums in collaboration with Louis Gordon.

In tune with the scratched, bleached out imperfections of the movie films that have inspired this album, Foxx has turned to the gritty, authoritative resonance of analogue synthesis for most of his compositions. The tracks swing between introspective, shadowy soundtrack-style frameworks – as you would expect considering the subject matter – to some surprisingly melodic electropop. The lengthy Kurfurstendamm merges the clinical tones of Kraftwerk with the grandiose analogue filters of Klaus Schulze – sometimes cheesy, but irresistibly listenable and nostalgia-fuelled nevertheless. The track Looped Los Angeles even more so; treading on Jean Michel Jarre territory, with thick, juddering synth tones bouncing around with opulent playfulness.

The lush, heavily layered one-fingered synth salutes of Skyscraper remind me of old Gary Numan b-sides. Thankfully Foxx is more experimental and intelligent in his choice of instrumentation – he embraces and understands the value of analogue synthesis, rather than lazily turning his nose up at what still remains a unique sound source. Meanwhile, Points Of Departure and Underwater Automobiles, are more modern, using choral vocal samples and heavy effects to depict their subject matter, reminding me of some of Foxx’s latter-day ambient ventures.

As mentioned, this is definitely one of Foxx’s more listenable and enjoyable albums, even though I feel an opportunity has been lost to create something far superior - a CD/DVD project. As it is, Tiny Colour Movies works well, accutely reliant on Foxx’s wealth of experience as an electronic sound designer, still inspired by new ideas – and one who knows how to get the best out of analogue and digital sound sources to create interesting sound palettes.

— Barcode

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