Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Andy Tom-Fox

Andy Tom-Fox - Copulation Music [2003]

Andy Tom-Fox - Vessels for the Infinite [2003]

These two Andy Tom-Fox releases were found over ten years ago by a Finnish cartoonist in a skip round the back of a record shop in Finland. Being an inquisitive type he looked in the skip and there lay boxes, yes boxes, of Andy Tom-Fox CD’s all of them unsold, unloved and awaiting the day they went to landfill.

He sent me them to me because he knows I like the quirky and the strange and the unclassifiable which are three attributes all applicable to Andy Tom-Fox. You could also add sex obsessed, bonkers and surreal. I played them, thought them suitably strange in a ‘he can’t even sing’ kind of way and put them on a shelf where for the last ten years they have laid undisturbed.

And then last week I dug them out again. I have no idea why. Perhaps my curiosity was peaked by seeing them once more. The first time I heard them I don’t remember them having any particular effect on me other than for the fact that Tom-Fox’s singing voice wasn’t really a singing voice, more of a singing/talking voice that came across like John Lydon channeling Dot Wiggins from The Shaggs and that some of the track titles were a little odd, ‘Jesus Wants to Know the Women’, ‘Date Rape Pill’, ‘Hymen and the Scanty Panty’. And that he seemed to be obsessed with sex. Did I mention the sex?

My interest once again piqued I played Copulation Music and while it was playing I decided to visit his website fully expecting to see a ‘not found' error message which is where things started to get weird. To my utter amazement Andy Tom-Fox’s website is alive and kicking but only in a very basic way. The only thing it shows is his latest January 2014 release ‘Soulmating’ [with the ‘O’ being made up of the medical symbols used for distinguishing the sexes] and that's it barring five images of Andy Tom-Fox, four of which are similar to what you see above and one of which is a blurry image of him in a shower cap holding a cat with a guitar on his lap. No contact info, no back catalogue, no links to Bandcamp, Facebook, Twitter, Soundcloud, nothing. All we have is each of the five pages showing an image of his new album which you cant even get because theres no contact info.
So I Googled Andy Tom-Fox and I got two returns, one which is his website and one which is a youtube video showing the sleeve for ‘Vessels of the Infinite’ as the last track from the album ‘The Fifth Apostol’ [sic] plays, a video that has had but seven plays since being posted in November 2014. There is a Facebook page for the musician Andy Tom-Fox but it’s absolutely dead apart from one like and no Discogs entries. Go figure.
So far so weird. But what makes it really, really, really weird is the music itself. His band can certainly play, of that there is no doubt, think Devo, The Desperate Bicycles and run of the mill commercial radio pop and rock all jumbled up in to a generic mush, a mish-mash of styles all played competently but over everything, stamped with the words AWFUL is Tom-Fox’s caterwauling out of tune, painful to the ears vocals.

His voice is strained. Its more than strained. He sounds like he’s dying. Play this to your mum and she’s tell you that this man simply can not sing but then some people lay that on Bob Dylan, Neil Young and Leonard Cohen and it hasn’t done their careers any harm. No, Andy Tom-Fox really cant sing. His voice is flat and tuneless, he holds notes for too long until they waver and ultimately grate. When he’s half singing, half talking he gets away with it but when he opens up its painful and after a while its nothing less than terrible and unlistenable.

And then there’s the lyrics which for the most part are sex obsessed and surreal. There’s no lyric sheet for Copulation Music which is a pity as its the best album of the two but here’s a sample of what you can expect on Vessels for the Infinite [all spelling mistakes left as is]:

Will Y be a last one of the only one? Y will turn back time full nine years turn them into nine hours on compact discs [Full Nine Years],

Others have some of that coce, some of that speed,
But these girls, they are stranger, they grow much taller,
Very much bolder. They are the getamine girls,
Get me some, get me some, get me some, get me some,
Get me some getamine girls,
And they landed on my face like a true atomic race.
If Y don’t get me some fast, the shakes’ll tahe all over, Oh yesh! [Getamine Girls]

And Jesus sais: Fanny desperate pink hole like steaming hot jungle under the eyes portraiting watercolour paintings, breathes salmon and seachells with coconut coating. Seven sigarettes and a modest dring; your sex organs float in the air, lips thick like oversize concrete doors.’ [Jesus Wants to Know the Women]

I see London I see France Totally ta-di-da Low-riders it’s butts not breasts I remember Sunset and Wine. I have been there, but I can’t remember a thing. I’m the one who mede European women rude and lame. Liberating shapeds. Bebroom adventure. Sexy singles. What x shoes should I wear with pastel dress. The wine opener would have been that voluptuous sport girl’s from the pool. A little white lie to keep me alive. [Hymen and the Scanty Panty].

‘Hymen and the Scanty Panty’ also carries the sound of breathless bedroom fumbling in the nearest Tom-Fox gets to sounding like Roky Erickson. On ‘God of Hollywood’ there’s the constant sound of a yapping and howling dog thats obviously not a dog and is obviously someone from the band pretending to be a dog. Tom-Fox has obviously soaked up some punk in his time too which is best heard on ‘Date-Rape Pill’, a four minute bar chord thrash on an unaccompanied electric guitar over which he sings ‘I don’t leave no aftertaste, I don’t need no aftermath’. And check out those album dedications; ‘This album is dedicated to everybody who always died too soon’ and ‘This album is dedicated to all new mothers’.

What this leaves us with is one big unanswered questions; Is Andy Tom-Fox a real person playing in a real band or is this all some kind of wind up? Does that butter wouldn’t melt fizog hide a beast with a ten inch todger? And if he is a real person why doesn’t he want us to hear his music? Why keep a website going and leave no contact info or any indication as to a back catalogue? And whats with all those ‘Y’s’. Is that the Prince influence or is he deep down a Genesis P-Orridge fan and all this is the work of some Industrial pranksters who for ten years have been perpetuating the Andy Tom-Fox myth in the hope that one day some damn fool writer would pick up on him and write about him?

There is an email address. Its on the back of Copulation Music. I’m writing him now.

Andy Tom-Fox, available in skips in Finland and, it would seem, nowhere else.


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