1993 CMJ Review Steroid Maxiumus: Gondawanaland


Considering his foray into instrumental music for MTV Sports, it’s not surprising that the prolific, diverse Jim Thirlwell would eventually focus primarily on soundtrack music. Gondwanaland sounds as if it were the score for a leather-clad James Bond movie, full of high-action chases and plenty of suspense. The pieces, although not songs per se, move in a natural progression towards a climax and are more obtrusive than the usual soundtrack release. The wailing Arabic sample of “Radio Raheem,” for example, as well as the four movements of “The Bowel Of Beelzebub” (it is still Foetus, after all), return constantly to a homing point, creating a traditional song structure with a nontraditional format. The one cover, Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse!,” shows that Thirlwell knows exactly what he’s doing-the manic hijinks of Scott’s composition is ideally suited to Jim’s world by the blasts of horns and industrial squawks. Gondwanaland stands up surprisingly well to repeated listenings, and offers a compromise between background and interactive music. Danny Elfman, watch out.

CMJ New Music Report, Issue# 316 (22 Jan 1993), by Megan McLaughlin.