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When it comes to expressing certain moods, electronic music can be particularly apt. On Flow, Foetus presents themes of loneliness, anger, betrayal, desperation, and hunger. Predictably, the music overflows with square wavesharsh, crunchy vocals; distorted guitar riffs; and relentless pounding drums. But Flow also offers plenty of surprises as well. The tunes on this disc alternate between noise and various insundry creative detours. "Cirrhosis of the Heart," with Thirlwell's trademark dark vocals, sails forth over Latin rhythms, bossa nova guitar, and bluesy organ & trumpet swells. Hardly a combination you'd expect to work, but Foetus operates at the edge of sanity. His wolf-in-sheep's-clothing routine works amazingly well.
Jazzy interludes fade soon enough back into distortion land. Apt comparisons for much of the latter work include noise-masters Ministry and Nine Inch Nails. But even in the midst of relentless pounding energy, Foetus finds time to toss out a lyrical organ solo or chorale. On "Grace of God," he croons over swing rhythms, trading off with gospel vocal accompaniment, before heading into an orchestrated swing interlude. Strange? Yes. But somehow this combo fits together coherently into the overall Jekyll and Hyde configuration of Flow. The unifying element pulling things together is Thirlwell's dark lyrics. (From "Suspect": "in the shadow of the spectre/under the sword of damocles/well i have but one regret/that i have not killed you yet".)
From the standpoint of pure insanity, Flow is a brilliant masterwork. Listeners with a taste for law and order, or those who prefer not to peer over the edge, are strongly encouraged to look elsewhere. The rest of us can revel in our imperfections and indulge our restless energy with this disc.
Track Listing: Quick Fix; Cirrhosis of the Heart; Mandelay; Grace of God; The Need Machine; Suspect; Someone Who Cares; Heuldoch 7B; Victim or Victor?; Shun; Kreibabe.
Years ago now--in Rhodesia--listening to Voice of America with Willis Conover I heard Bunk Johnson play When The Saints Go Marching In, and Billie Holiday sing Don't Explain. I knew then there was no other life for me than jazz.