REVIEW: Foetus - "BLOW"

By Dan Century

Chain Border

BlowIf you're a fan of Jim "Foetus" Thirlwell, you know the man likes to work alone. Occasionally he brings a guitarist or violinist into the mix, but 99% of the time Jim a.k.a. Foetus a.k.a. Clint Ruin a.k.a. Manroexia plays all the instruments, does all the song writing, designs the album art, produces, engineers - you name it. Foetus takes the concept of a one-man-band to the extreme. After 20 years of going it alone Jim Thirlwell has finally put his baby, I mean Foetus, in the capable hands of other producers, DJ's and remixers.

BLOW is FLOW (Foetus' previous album) remixed by industrial veterans like Sean Beavan (NIN), Phylr (Cop Shoot Cop), Charlie Clouser (NIN), Franz Treichler (Young Gods), and a host of young blood remixers and artists with electronic and lounge backgrounds.

The artwork for BLOW is also a departure for Foetus. Usually Foetus album covers are bold red, white and black, conjuring up moments of war, sex, or other terrifying imagery. For BLOW Thirlwell has softened the edges and expanded his palette: on the front of the CD a neo-Japanese Cartman, and on the back a Magna style "Kreibabe" nestled amongst floating strawberries.

I have a hard time admitting this, but BLOW is the best Foetus album since THAW - and most importantly the remixes are an improvement on the originals found on FLOW. Simply put, BLOW doesn't blow. The only disappointment: none of the songs are danceable - but when was the last time you danced to a Foetus song?

The Tracks:

The Jay Wasco remix of Victor or Victim expands upon the jazzy, noisy and orchestral moments of the original adding new riffs and grooves, and intense guitar feedback. The finished product sounds like something off THAW, which is very cool as far as I'm concerned. Franz Treichler, of the underrated and under appreciated Young Gods, transforms the previously kinetically paced Need Machine into a low and slow, deep and dirty midnight alley belly crawl. A meth-head to heroin junky transformation.

Panacea's remix of Heuldoch 7b brings out the original's most techno moments, pumping up the beats and the synthetic-sounding bass riffs, and adding stacks of deep echo. It sounds like you're listening to the original mixed with some early 90's techno, in a large, echo prone club like NYC's Limelight. Kid 606's style is definitely an acquired taste: he/she tends to rip, distort, and torture a song until it's barely recognizable, and this remix of Shun is no different. In an album of radically remixed songs, this is the most substantial departure from the original, and probably the least enjoyable.

Ursula 1000's remix of Someone Who Cares is a wicked mix of motorcycle roars, surf guitar, and Ennio Morricone spaghetti western - a playful and satisfying treatment of the original. Halfway between The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult's Sex on Wheels, and twice as fun. Phylr, a solo artist and former Cop Shoot Cop keyboardist, drops the heavy grinding moments of Mandelay, and presents a smooth and satisfying mix, bringing out the best of Thirwell's voice, and adding a bed of lush keyboards. Foetus for the chillout scene.

Charlie Closer, the madman behind many of Nine Inch Nails more interesting moments, transforms Quick Fix to the point that it sounds like something off NIN's Fixed EP. Plenty of slamming beats, vocal effects and rhythmic white noise to make fans of Foetus or NIN happy. Sean Beavan, another NIN alumni, tackles Grace of God and produces something equal parts breakbeat, big band and stadium rock. The real treat of the song is Sean's isolation of a final rock'n'roll "Ahhh Oooh Yeah" that was clipped from the original.

DJ Food transforms Suspect into a terrifying voyage to the mean streets of hell - twisting Jim's voice to demonic depths and devilish highs - when Jim's voice is lowered an octave and he sings "I have one regret, that I have not killed you yet" you better believe it. The song's more cinematic moments are pumped up and highlighted - all the hard-boiled horns and disemboweled ambience stretched and shattered for her pleasure and yours. Like many of THAW's finer moments all balled up into one track. Pan Sonic takes Kreibabe (cry baby) to a dark and robotic place - jeep-deep distorted bass kicks, blasts of white hot white noise and buzz-saw sharp electronic feedback. Probably what it sounds like to listen to Godflesh on a handful of Xanex, or what it's like to be cornered by possessed assembly robots at a Ford plant in Siberia.

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