Throughout the history of music it is exceedingly rare to find an artist that can seamlessly combine 100 years of music history into a single song in a way that feels free, intuitive and alive.
Ted C Fox wasn't trying to be brilliant when he was combining seemingly disparate genres into an entirely new sound but did just that on his debut album, GOD, which spans musical genres from early delta fingerpicking all the way to the most current sounds in post-rock and shoe-gaze.
"I'm just a guy trying to exorcise my own personal greif and the weight of my past and I found that difficult to do without combining all the different genres that I listen to, each of which moves me in importantly unique ways." Ted C Fox
In a single song of A Gospel of Dirt expect to hear Mississippi John Hurt inspired fingerpicking, the deep sadness of Elliot Smith style vocal tones, the haunting wail of the fiddle and mandolin with their demonic tones hailing from a dark appalachian past, the otherworldly ambience of the latest post-rock, shoegaze and soundwave, punctuated here and there with the epic distortion riffs of metal and early 90s grunge and punk. Besides Mississippi John Hurt and Elliot Smith, A Gospel of Dirt has been compared to everyone from Mogwai, Smashing Pumpkins, Tool, Hank Williams Sr, Johnny Cash, Russian Circles to This WIll Destroy You. This incredible list of sound comparisons spans a century and has been described by Grace White of Grace and Tony as "Apocolyptic Gospel."
The sadness that Fox captures in AGOD begins in college where he studied literature and philosophy at prestigious music college, Belmont University. While studying other subjects he nonetheless received a wellspring of informal music training packed in to just a few short years during marathon jam sessions involving copious amounts of illicit drug consumption. He began experimenting with all the different genres he was exposed to while also suffering at the hands of a crippling drug addiction and diagnosis of bipolar II with major depressive disorder.However, Fox still managed multiple awards and publications in his major as his life fell apart and he meanwhile suffered numerous institutionalizations and incarcerations. He managed to graduate and from 2005-2010 Ted lived off and on in China for a full year at one point. There, living mostly in an obscure countryside in a provence called Guangxi, but largely drifting all over the country from sprawling megacities to country side villages he escaped to, "a kind of pagan purgatory, both beautiful and harsh into which I could escape what had been my life. It was a world of unfathomably huge canned incredible dense cities surrounded by a countryside of mystical beauty. It was peopled by other foreigners equally disenchanted with their first life, kind and tolerant Chinese some of whose manner of living had not changed in 1000 years and the odd backpackers with their curious chipper and hopeful dispositions." During this time Fox worked in solitude and isolation creating haunting and lonely soundscapes that are unlike anything you've ever heard. However, his personal life was a perpetual chaos and AGOD could never come to fruition when "living mostly in a perpetual substance induced blackout." By 2012 Fox had managed a couple of years of sobriety by joining a community of recovery and met local music industry savant, Lloyd Aur Norman (VP, CEO). Upon hearing Ted's demos Norman immediately set out to finance, produce and market this one of a kind album. "When I first heard Ted's demos…" LLoyd quote.
While musically the most interesting thing you will hear this year, AGOD cannot be talked about without also mentioning Fox's uniquely dark and rich lyrics. Inspired heavily by Cormac Mccarthy, AGOD is primarily about greif, death and rebirth. Intentionally written so as to never be certain whether the narrator is speaking of a death or of a rebirth (as the two are so often indistinguishable in life), AGOD is about trying to move forward against the current of an ever present and overwhelming past. It is written to explore greif and the great weight and deep sadness that only grief holds, while being neither about the hopelessness of being lost therein nor the triumph of moving on. It's about both.
While working on AGOD with VP for no less than four straight years, Fox teemed back up with old friends to create a musical super group compiled of local scene giants. These pillars of Nashville music who had been impacting the Nashville scene for the last two decades have now come together and reinvented themselves into one magnificent beast of darkness. Some of these members first played with Fox in the early 90s at the epicenter of early 90s punk in Nashville, Lucy's Record Shop. Other members whose own dark paths had crossed Ted's at different times had made their own names for themselves before culminating into the present unstoppable force that they together bring to the stage. The combination of their experience and Ted's singular vision is an experience you do not want to miss.
"My music is a direct result of my own tastes. For me if I create from some idea I have of the tastes of other people I'm lost. It's like trying to create from the standpoint of fictional characters I made up but for whom I have not bothered to create any real depth or complexity or personal history. The only access I have to real depth is that of my own history and character and so I have to create from there or else I will create from nothing and end up with nothing." Ted Fox
AGOD is an album with extremely deep layering. With soul tingling tones you will hear multiple threads of intricate guitars, wailing violins and mandolins, vocals as eery as the grave, percussion that here barely touches the ride and there thumps your sternum with pagan wardrums, and bass that sounds part sub oceanic tranquility and part chainsaw. Highlights include "Durante Vita," "I Love My Dead Wife" and "Ruins."
The first video release for Fox, "Durante Vita," is an unbelievable journey through sounds. The first 2 minutes of the song captures the sound of Japan's haunted forrest while blending an appalachian darkness with post rock production. For the last 4 minutes get ready for a ride into a mind-blowing combination of those appalachian sounds with something reminiscent of Tool's aenemia, with an ever escalating intensity into a gut wrenching climax with no musical precedent. On "I Love My Dead Wife," the ethereal element of Ted's writing takes center stage with the guitars channeling utter sadness while dancing with breathtaking violins. While much of the album is complexly layered, on the straightforward and hooky "Ruins" Fox writes straightforward fingerstyle picking with a catchy but lonesome hook coupled with a tasteful but impassioned vocal melody and a stellar fiddle performance.
Fox was recently nominated for Indieville TV Male Solo Artist of the Year. Up next Fox will be releasing his video for Durante Vita, filmed by the award winning crew at VP. Along with the album release, expect to see a single coming soon. He will continue promoting his album release through early 2016 and hit the road later in the year.