Ghost Harmonic – Codex [Metamatic]

Ghost Harmonic is a new project which brings together the prolific and pioneering musician John Foxx, electronic music artist Benge (Ben Edwards), and classical violinist Diana Yukawa.  The result is Codex, a captivating and immersive recording that was as much of a journey for the musicians to create as it is for the listener to enjoy. According to Edwards, the clue to what the band sought to achieve is codified in their name:

The spaces in between the musical notes are often overlooked in modern recording,’ says Benge. ‘It was these ideas that we wanted to capture on this record. The ‘ghosts’ in the studio that we were listening to for inspiration. The name came out of that.’

Foxx elaborates on how this developed during the course of recording:

I guess the underlying intention was we all wanted to see what might happen when a classically trained musician engaged with some of the possibilities a modern recording studio can offer – eg multi-tracking, vast notional spaces, long echoes, looping, retuning, layering, synthesisers, sound effects, vintage and cheap equipment etc…I noticed an interesting effect when multi-tracking into long or complex reverbs – certain harmonics would be suppressed or enhanced and previously unheard ones would emerge from the miasma. This can be really beautiful and it’s now what I most listen for – I know a piece is going somewhere new when this sort of thing begins to occur.

Codex is a certainly an album to lose oneself in. It adheres to a similar ambient aesthetic as Foxx’s collaborations with Harold Budd (due for re-release very soon by the way) or his own recent London Overgrown, but the presence of Yukawa’s violin gives it a lavish warmth that makes it much more expansive. The album is divided into 5 tracks, but according to Foxx it is really one continuous piece of music.

About the opening tracks, ‘A Green Thought in a Green Shade’ and ‘The Pleasure of Ruins’, the liner notes reference overgrown cities, something easy to imagine as these pieces unfold in their lush and desolate grandeur.  ‘Dispersed Memory’ is more unsettling, like a passage through a dark wood that transitions into the second half of the album. Unease quickly yields to wonder, however, as we drift into ‘We Came to This Shore’ where the suggested image is that of a submerged city or an underwater forest. The longest track on the album, it is nothing short of magical – meandering through a world of its own making and allowing ample space for Yukawa to improvise quite beautifully. The final coda, the title track, emerges from these depths in a slow and graceful crescendo of wistful beauty.

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With its cavernous, glacial tones, resonant strings, and evocative imagery, Codex is sumptuous offering, a place for the ears and mind to linger and explore. The album is available through Foxx’s own Metamatic label in a limited CD edition with hardback book or digitally from iTunes or Amazon.