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Song of the day – 220: Foetus

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There’s a new Foetus album out, Hide.

It’s nasty. It’s layered, with claustrophobia and a refusal to be brought down by the rotting last days of the previous American president. It’s orchestrated, all over the place. By orchestrated, I mean crushing great string sections to match the pummeling great industrial beats. It’s symphonic. Fuck yeah. It’s cinematic. It saps energy, if you let it. It’s twisted. It layers one singer (Abby Fischer) upon one singer (Abby Fischer) upon one singer (Abby Fischer) until it sounds like a great canon of singers. The beats writhe and splinter. The music writhes and splinters and then splinters some more. It’s a little reminiscent of Laibach, minus the humour. (Some might want to take issue with that statement, from either end. I’m sure they’d be right to.) It grates. It’s not scared to be either operatic or epic or throw in elements of Ennio Morricone just when you weren’t expecting them. (Opening track ‘Cosmetics’ seems to possess ‘movements’ before breaking into a very Foetus coda at around the six-minute mark.)

Actually, it’s very cinematic. Yes, it’s paranoid. Is it sinister? Oh my, yes. Yes, it’s sinister. So sinister in fact, you begin to wonder whether Tim Burton has been using the wrong man all these years to soundtrack his films… although this feels more cyberpunk than twisted gothic (probably by association, the bands that followed Foetus). Listen close, you’ll hear some wild gypsy. Some battered machinery. Plenty of orchestration. Manipulating whirlwinds of sound in the air.

Hide is the 10th Foetus album proper, though probably about the 341st of JG Thirwell’s startling and prolific career. It’s at once familiar and unsettling (like most of his stuff). I interviewed JG Thirwell (Foetus) once, on one of my earliest visits to New York (might even have been the first). 1989, or thereabouts. I caught the train down to his place, in the Brooklyn Projects. It was a 10-minute walk from the station, and on the way there I passed three burning cars. “Glad you made it,” Jim remarked, unlocking his six-inch thick metal door, three padlocks. “The last three people who attempted that walk in the previous week got mugged.” I didn’t get the impression he was joking.

There’s a more in-depth review from one of my favourite bloggers here.

JG Thirwell spent 18 years in Australia, you know. Loved every moment.

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