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John Foxx & The Maths | Howl

Ultravox's former frontman keeps the new wave flame alive on his latest solo set.


Why wait for Ultravox to reunite again? Original frontman John Foxx continues to keep the old flame alive with his fifth solo album Howl. These eight tracks of synth-driven new wave and post-punk sound like they were just unearthed from a time capsule buried 40 years ago beneath a Berlin club co-owned by Kraftwerk, David Bowie and Gary Numan. With glistening banks of analogue synths, swirling clouds of dry-ice vocals and crisply precise robotic beatboxes — not to mention the addition of former Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon to the roster — the only thing missing are the PVC pants, neon lighting and asymmetrical haircuts. Ball’s in your court, Midge Ure.

THE PRESS RELEASE:John Foxx And The Maths return with a new line-up on their fifth studio album Howl. Former Ultravox guitarist Robin Simon joins Foxx, Benge (Ben Edwards) and Hannah Peel after previously guesting with The Maths at their debut Roundhouse show in 2010. “For years, I’d wanted to work with Robin Simon again,” says Foxx. “There’s something central about what he does — and I always miss it, no matter who I work with. It’s what Rob can do with a song, and with the sheer power of sound.” Work on the album began back in April 2019 at Benge’s Memetune studios in Cornwall with Simon involved right from the start, his contributions instantly mutating the original ideas into something new. “Give him a song and he’ll give you three takes — all utterly different incarnations,” enthuses Foxx, who first worked with Simon on Ultravox’s Systems Of Romance album in 1978. “And it will all be much better. Demolition intercision is what he does and when you get used to the violence he can wreak, it’s a true delight.” Foxx and Benge originally got together back in 2010, playing the first Maths show before they’d even finished their debut album, Interplay, which came out in 2011. Forward-looking, intuitive and risk taking from the start, their passion for the strange sounds and atmospheres they seduce and rip from the machines in the studio has inspired a series of fiercely personal electronic records — The Shape Of Things (2012), Evidence (2013) and The Machine (2017), an eerie instrumental score for the theatre production of E.M. Forster’s The Machine Stops. Along the way they’ve collaborated with The Soft Moon, Gazelle Twin, ADULT., Xeno & Oaklander, Gary Numan, Matthew Dear and many more, but at the core of everything is Foxx and the Cornish-based artist/producer. “Benge is this generation’s Conny Plank,” grins Foxx. “Original thinker, open mind, eager conspirator in insanity and the desire to push everything beyond its limits and record it all perfectly — but holding no daft prejudices. In other words, the kind of captain you always want at the helm of the Enterprise.”