John Foxx’s split from Ultravox allowed him to focus on an even more purely electronic approach when it came to his solo career, and his resulting debut effort, Metamatic, turned out to be a defining example of synthpop’s incipient years, down to the iconic cover of an elegantly spare Foxx touching a glowing screen. Mysterious but always catchy meditations on identity and technology, heavily informed by J. G. Ballard’s work, formed the core, with singles like “Underpass” and “No-One Driving” matched by deeper cuts such as “He’s a Liquid” and “030.”
Like Gary Numan, Ultravox ex-pat John Foxx used minimalist synthesizers to articulate the alienation and Cold War paranoia at the dawn of the 80s. His frosty distance makes Numan feel positively warm and welcoming in comparison. “Plaza” and “Underpass” use austere architectural features to demonstrate the impersonal nature of modern living, “Metal Beat” describes itself, “He’s a Liquid” and “Blurred Girl” make their adjective literal. Like the enigmatic light panel on the cover, the simplicity of the sound is misleading; Foxx’s psyche remains opaque the entire time.