ABOVE: ANDREW FOX, AKA VISUALS. IMAGE COURTESY OF MATT LAMBERT
Visuals is a new electronic pop project from Berlin-via-New York producer Andrew Fox. Though Fox’s chosen moniker is clearly inspired by his history working with film (he’s an accomplished cinematographer), there’s more to the name than meets the eye—quite literally. When Fox was a child, he was afflicted with an ocular disorder that caused him to see the world in only two dimensions. Visuals’ music, however, is anything but flat. His self-titled EP, released via techno wunderkind Nicolas Jaar‘s Other People imprint, places dark pop melodies and icy synths in the deft hands of producers Jaar and guitarist Dave Harrington— better known as critically acclaimed duo Darkside.
Along with the four songs on the Visuals EP, Fox also recorded a cover of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” partially inspirited by his adopted city of Berlin. “When I am at my studio desk, there’s almost always a guitar there and my hands are usually on automatic pilot, so the cover happened somewhat spontaneously,” explains Fox. “I had at that point been traveling throughout Europe for two months, and living in Berlin not far down the road from where Bowie shared an apartment with Iggy Pop. So whether consciously or not, part of the inspiration was that Bowie aura; and another was Major Tom’s simultaneous sense of fear and exhilaration at crossing into an unknown.”
Well aware that he’s taking on hallowed ground, Visuals set out to put his own spin on a classic. “There have been other covers of ‘Space Oddity’ before, like Seu Jorge’s, that have been completely transformative. In the production, I wanted to keep the feeling of spaciousness and lushness of the original but with far more minimal and electronic elements,” says Fox, whose 909s now take center stage. “Because the main take is a tinny guitar and vocals, I wanted to create the physical sensation of the solitary listener floating through the small handful of sampled and synthesized textures that were added.” The effect is a comfortingly familiar, but eerily removed take on the uncanny original.