2001 Monochrom Review of Foetus: Flow

CD, Noise-O-Lution

Old noise-rock-heroes die hard. Foetus is a legend, no discussion. His 2001-record leaves a somewhat mixed taste. There are the genius moments of urban nightmare and the fine bigband-jazz-tunes. But there are also strange and chaotic moments, which don’t seem to fit, except that they break the flow, which might be intended. Anyway, Mr. Thirlwell still has his vision and he follows it down. How low? Well, I guess we will see.

J.G. Thirlwell, where have you been so long? My guess: he was lost in a drug-induced haze amidst the neonlights of the seedy, rained-on red-light district of New York, where he spent his days in peep-shows, hustling and memorising songs in his head. All the while he experienced the drama and atrocities of everyday urban-ghetto-life. Then he took a short time-travel to the stone-age, meeting the band that plays the score to the Flintstones. With those guys he spent a night drinking cheap vine and whiskey and lamenting the fact, that thousands of bands live off his musical legacy without even knowing. Life is a cheap shot of drugs and a long headache afterwards. Tortured by paining nightmares, which reveal themselves as the truth, he fled back to the nineties and then, after the millenium has turned over, trying feverishly to get his act together again. First by producing tracks for other artists, and then starting to work on his own new record. Yes, I am sure it happened that way.

But his visions and ideas mixed and mingled, because there are just too many of them, too much chaos and creativity. All instruments have to be played, and everytime a new track is laid down a couple of new ideas pop up. Finally, the dicionary has to be searched for another four-letter-word that will make a good title. And as soon as “flow” is finished, the work for the follower “glow” is already on its way. There is just no time to sit back and relax. This city kills its weak, its young and its slow. Nobody cares. No time to think, you have to swim or you’ll drown. Or get drowned.

In that way, Foetus has again achieved to catch the atmosphere of the big-city-loser amidst the craziness and speed of the urban metropolis, who dreams about the old times and tries to stay alive in the present. The future? Well, way out of sight. “Flow” rarely features hit-singles, since all the songs offer at least one startling piece of arrangement, instrument, tonality or lyric. They all get broken up somewhere along the line, which makes this a very good album for people, who like to listen through whole albums, but hard for DJs, who are always just looking for another tune to make people dance. DJs in clubs, where people mainly drink will find this a lot easier, since the atmosphere might fit perfectly for another alcoholic stupor.

Somewhere along the line J.G. Thirlwell stopped to use all these funny, different monikers and incorporates all styles he once tried, and some others on this record. There is the groovy big-band-jazz of Garage Monster or Steroid Maximus, there are the early noise-experiments which he used to call “Scraping Foetus of the wheels” or “You’ve got Foetus on your breath” or “The Foetus All-Nude-revue” and many other, funny epitaphs. Brand-awareness? Or just being consequent?
To me, it is the consequent creation and development of a vision, an unique vision. Maybe, due to the vastness of Foetus’ work, this very mixed and encompassing CD seems to me not as compact and straight-lined as other, earlier CDs and accordingly not his best CD. But I also have the feeling, that Foetus’ best CD is a memory of mixed 12”es, albums and remixes that formed in my head some years ago and that won’t go away. I’d recommend every newcomer, interested in this dark and urban psychopath (only musically, I don’t know the guy personally) to listen through a wide variety of his work – old and new stuff, different names and monikers and to see for themselves. That, actually, is always a good tip.