I can’t shut off my ears to that infernal internal refrain!
J.G. Thirlwell is not a household name by any means. No doubt slipping under the radar for many, the man sometimes known as Clint Ruin and Frank Want has built up quite a cult following as one of the most prolific background figures in the music business; a notable contributor, producer and remixer (having worked with Nine Inch Nails, Marc Almond, Front 242, Nick Cave, The The, Roli Mosimann, Thurston Moore, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Raymond Watts, Marilyn Manson and more) owing most of his popularity to his primary musical act, Foetus.
Cycling through several monikers over the years all involving that particular word (Foetus Interruptus, You've Got Foetus On Your Breath, Foetus Corruptus) since 1981 J.G. has concocted some of the most difficult to categorise genre-bending experiments ever put to tape, mostly centred around the abrasive sampling and drum machines typical of industrial. Third album Hole (released under Scraping Foetus Off The Wheel) is a much more refined effort, for the most part it is no less engaging for those of us with ADD.
Opening track Clothes Hoist is a frenetic bastard of a thing with many multilayered tracks of percussion, a swinging psychobilly hook to J.G's vocals and an explosion of distorted textures bringing to mind a chaotic B-grade horror movie extravaganza. It's a fun song on its own merits, but when listened to through headphones an impressive field of sound is revealed with the sheer number of parts at work somewhat awe inspiring. Lust For Death has a Mr. Bungle before there was Mr. Bungle vibe in its cheesy organs, rumbling double bass, cheap trumpet stabs and upbeat ostinatos using sounds sourced from god-knows where; the wild man howl of the man behind it all riding high on the madness eventually gelling after a few listens into a downright entertaining piece of music.
I'll Meet You In Poland Baby is unique to say the least, an A Cappella intro with meticulously timed delay effects providing an odd but ultimately satisfying arrangement as J.G. namedrops Stalin and The Versailles Treaty in a declaration of war (See you at your graveside baby, I’ll meet you in Poland baby!). Incorporating a Nazi march "stomp" as the backbeat is an intuitive move, samples of German rallies and sirens in the distance contributing to a military wartime feel whilst the added nuances of percussion and the strange vocal hooks make it a very distinct song.
Hole is an inconsistent album in many ways, however where it works it is a captivating listen. There is a manic energy to it at its best, with a lot of density to the compositions which makes for an excellent listen through a pair of nice headphones (and some weed wouldn’t hurt either). A few of the songs are subpar as a whole, but they all have their good aspects in one way or another. There is absolutely no other music on the planet quite like what J.G. Thirlwell has unleashed with Foetus, and whilst there may be better albums to start with Hole is more than enough to spark interest in investigating the pioneering industrial artist.
1. Clothes Hoist
2. Lust For Death
3. I’ll Meet You In Poland Baby
4. Hot Horse
6. Street Of Shame
7. Satan Place
8. White Knuckles
9. Water Torture