Friday, 27 April 2012

Bloody Hell!

Another fantastic Foetus-related item.
Mean, dirty and in your face; this is the best material J.G. Thirlwell (Foetus, or in this case Clint Ruin) produced while collaborating with the bombastic percussionist and no wave master producer Roli Mosimann: collectively known as Wiseblood.

Put together in the mid-eighties, with this album released in 87; Wiseblood are long gone; but their legacy of sound lives on, and it still sounds as stunning today as it did twenty-five years ago.

The beats and percussion on this album are absolutely immense; Mosimann creating the perfect rhythmic pallet for Thirlwell's words, delivery and soundscaping to possess and inhabit.

From the opening utterance: 'Gonzola', the mood is immediately set - how Thirlwell manages to make the mere mention of an innocuous substance such as gonzola sound so dirty and disturbing I don't know. But he does.

With the lyrics accompanied by a clipped, sharp beat and a massive guitar sound, again we see Thirlwell responding to the zeitgeist. Post-hardcore (Big Black, Sonic Youth et al.) and avant electronic music (Aphex Twin, Autechre et al.) were the new sounds that many members of Wiseblood's audience would have been interested in, so Thirlwell, a true bricoleur, readily absorbed those styles into his sound.
Consequently this album has a far more metal and bombastic sound than the Motorslug e.p. released two years earlier in 85.

'O-O (Where Evil Dwells)' is a track that in a way could be seen as reportage; as it tells the horrific story of Ricky Kasso, a murderer who inspired by mescaline, Anton LaVey and Satanism decided to commit an act of human sacrifice on a camping trip with some 'friends' on Long Island, New York, in 1984.
Once taken into custody he soon hanged himself, so no trial ever took place; which has led to enormous amounts of speculation and machination about what actually happened.

It caused an awful lot of fuss in North American media at the time as an association was soon made with the fact that Kasso listened to heavy metal music.
This all fitted in very nicely with Tipper Gore's activities: recruiting for and eventually creating the obnoxious pressure group the PMRC.
(She was soon joined by her husband Al; and I know he seems to have acquired a saintly persona of late, what with his saving the world and all, but he did make comments back in the mid-eighties that parents who allowed their children to listen to punk rock and heavy metal music were committing an act of child abuse - he also expressed a desire for the American government to take total control and heavily regulate the Internet and the World Wide Web. Funny how things change... Jeepers, I'm starting to feel like Winston Smith!)

Anyway, Wikipedia has a page about the Kasso case; if you're interested go there and check it out.

'Stumbo', one of my all-time favourite Thirlwell songs, is like a graphic novel or comic book captured in sound.
A repeated pig-like oink or grunt is the foundation of the track's beat, really adding and enhancing its surreal noirish atmosphere.
Once you hear the track 'Stumbo': Stumbo lives!
You can visualize him. You feel him. You fear him.
And rightly so, coz:


'Someone Drowned in my Pool' begins ethereally; hardly Thirlwell-like at all.
A spooky piano, lo-fi dissonant guitar chords accompany a deeply remorseful, timorous voice; a voice that attempts to explain the corpses that keep turning up within his immediate vicinity:

'She told me she was breeding
Then slipped backwards downstairs
Someone died in that womb.

I turned round to find
that miscarriage of justice [nice!]
Someone drowned in my pool.'

Of course he may sound innocent at the beginning, with maybe just the slight hint of contrition evident, but he's just a victim of circumstance, right: a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But you know by the end of the song, that the speaker is guiltyasfuck!
The track becoming a wonderful Dostoyevskian delineation and study of guilt.
Proving, if any proof were needed, that Thirlwell is a true artist of the highest calibre.
Musically and lyrically unique; and not at all afraid to deal with the most taboo of subject matter.


The final track, 'The Fudge Punch' is a spiteful piece of misogyny (just dwell on the title).
And it's a blues! well, kind of.

A monster metal guitar, provided by Mosimann's band mate, Swans' guitarist Norman Westberg, and with Mosimann's kit right at the front of the mix, the track has an enormously powerful drive and momentum.
Thirlwell spits outs the words: a delivery full of spite, venom and hate:

'Hey baby, keep your big mouth shut...
Bite the pillow...don't talk back...roll over...lay down

How can it be interpreted? Well, I guess as with so many things it's down to the ears of the beholder.
Me? I like to see it as satire; and with the big metal sound, I feel Thirlwell is attacking the misogyny associated with so much metal music; especially that which could be considered to be no more than 'cock-rock'.

But he is very convincing in his delivery. So take from it what thou will.

The climax to the track, and therefore the album, sounds just like that: a climax.
Thirlwell appears to be pleasuring himself; captured in a manner reminiscent of a dirty phone call, while Mosimann 'beats out' a Zeppelin like drum riff.

And the final sounds are given over totally to the kit; the beats play out alone, and with a great Bonham-like flourish the album comes to an end like the slamming of a door.
Which always seems to me a great way to end anything.
End with a bang. Not a whimper.

Wiseblood - Dirtdish (1987)

Vinyl rip @256kbs

Prime Gonzola
O-O (Where Evil Dwells)
Someone Drowned in My Pool
The Fudge Punch

Go get it here


Grebo said...

love love LOVE this album!

roy rocket said...

Good, innit.
Fuel for Grebos ;) roy