It’s never an easy task to have to change your performing name. Such is the case with “The Artist Formerly Known As Coastal” who now makes music under his somewhat less romantic real name of Paul J Fox. Yet since May 2012 alone the Belfast native has been both prolific and versatile. After first coming to my attention with the superb DIY surf pop of ‘Crumble Blue’, he has experimented and excelled in grunge, lo-fi and now ambient waters. Indeed, in the time its taken to release ‘Paradises’, a further single and compilation have been made available too.
Almost immediately the cavernous swells and jangly FX of ‘We’ll Be Ghosts By June’ makes one think back to the Cocteau Twins’ ‘Head Over Heels’ era. That same spirit of the early 4AD Records roster is referenced on ‘Hearts (Melted)’, ‘New Cross Gate’ and ‘The Beach, Somewhere’ where Fox summons up the murky mystery of The Wolfgang Press. There are also echoes (in both senses of the word) of Vladislav Delay’s skill in making aged machinery sound lonely and melancholic. In fact the whole EP evokes the atmosphere of music emerging from forbidden, underwater tunnels.
The only chink of light of the paradises promised in the EP title appears at the end of the record. Yet the vintage melody to ‘Aloha Oe (Farewell To Thee)’ possesses the aura of the last waltz on Earth as the scratched vinyl defiantly plays on whilst the gramophone is submerged into a subterranean oblivion. Of course, whilst these descriptions may portray the impression of a nightmare, there’s a beauty to these tracks which only reinforce the belief that Paul J Fox is a virtuoso performer who can turn his hand to any genre he wishes.
Bandcamp Stream for Paul J Fox – Paradises
This Mortal Coil, The Wolfgang Press, Cocteau Twins, Vladislav Delay