Foetus
Thaw


5.0
classic

Review

by Meatplow USER (111 Reviews)
June 26th, 2009 | 19 replies


Release Date: 1988 | Tracklist


Industrial music madman J.G. Thirlwell has been noted for helping to shape the genre throughout the 80's through his extensive work as producer, remixer and collaborator, his output with solo act Foetus producing at least two albums which are considered essential and groundbreaking, 1984's Hole and 1985's Nail. Both of these albums warped the notoriously morose genre of industrial music into something much more playful and entertaining, borrowing heavily from post-punk and several other genres of music to create something that absolutely does not withstand the deconstruction of the sum of its parts to such easy classifications of genre. It's all in a days work for this guy however, and if 1988's Thaw is anything to go by the man could very well go an unappreciated genius in his lifetime to be unfortunately overshadowed by such one man industrial innovators as Trent Reznor.

Previous album Nail is often seen as the magnum opus of Foetus, and to discuss Thaw in proper context you would have to refer to the production of Nail first. It is the mid 80's, and exceptionally strong production qualities for electronic based music do not exist yet. Some might even call this era dated, which to me is an unfair stretch as analogue electronics filtered through archaic production certainly have their own aesthetic quality which stand up today as unique and "of the era". This is how Nail feels, with its warped rock structures, intricate metallic percussion, noise loops, distorted synths and modern classical arrangements the whole album has a sense of being calculated, precise, every moment feeling programmed and premeditated.

In comparison, Thaw is a throbbing, organic nightmare.

Nothing would have sounded like Thaw in 1988, and in a way nothing sounds quite like Thaw today. Comparing Thaw against other industrial albums such as Ministry's The Land of Rape and Honey and Front 242's Front By Front which were released the same year the production on these albums sound flat in comparison, and rightly so. J.G. was truly ahead of his time in terms of production and his influence was immeasurable, Thaw testament to the fact.

If there is one way that would help to describe the general feel of this album, irreverent pop music driven by harsh noise might be almost adequate. Never before has an album filled with such hooks ended up this chaotic and noisy, tracks such as Don't Hide It, Provide It, English Faggot/Nothin Man, Hauss-On-Fah and ¡Chingada! managing to find a perfect balance between being abrasive and harboring perfectly constructed pop sensibilities. Don't Hide It, Provide It begins with machinery sounds, a brass section and a slide whistle (!), settling into a groovy drum beat accentuated by the cracking of a whip at the end of each bar. J.G's vocals are catchy as *** and are affected with plenty of distortion, introducing the lyrical content of the album which seems to be a parody of misanthropy and hatred in all its forms (If you don't stop hounding me/I'm gonna start pounding thee!/You're aching for a breaking/Some say i'm the rape man!) whilst layered noise and samples of gunfire wrap around everything to create something which could possibly be described as mutant disco. It manages to be enthralling, hilarious and disturbing all at once which is something that rarely lets up for the entire duration of Thaw. English Faggot/Nothin' Man follows a similar line, describing life through the eyes of a stalker (I've seen you around/I've been in your home/I've decided to take a peek through your keyhole) building up from a quiet intro peppered with subtle horn instrumentation and a drawling lyrical delivery using stabs of noise to gradually build dynamics into something much more intense and disturbing (Squeal like a pig!). Needless to say it is one unsettling track and i'll leave the old imagination to fill in the gaps.

Hauss-On-Fah is where the majesty of the pop side of Thaw truly reveals itself, J.G. screaming "The house is on fire!!!!!!" the best kind of intro. The following sections led by handclaps and a repeated backing chorus of "Boing Boing Boing" are nothing short of infectious, powered by thundering tom-toms, noisy electronics, tabla, and more whip cracks the vocal delivery is perfectly suited to this ridiculously catchy track. The Dipsomaniac Kiss is a moody, cartoonish affair built around a simple, downtempo piano melody that recalls Tom Waits if he were a little more psychotic, with some lyrics that feature a nicely homicidal touch (I've got a license to kill and an electric drill/Now is the time that time stands still). Much like English Faggot/Nothin' Man it builds in intensity from a soft beginning, then fades in and out at will. ¡Chingada! (which is allegedly Spanish for mother***er, or more broadly a general term related to ***) takes on blending the styles of Indian classical music with guitars and distorted noise, a parody of a spanish accent and spanish lyrics screamed over the top of this cacophonous din. Like much of the album it is difficult to describe, but completely thrilling all the same. Closer A Prayer For My Death is the most straightforward rock structured track here, but leaves the album on a note of completely denouncing the human race and all its failures. Yikes. As i've mentioned, there is a very strong theme of misanthropy and hatred running throughout Thaw and this is the culmination of it. Whilst this covers the lyrical centered songs here, we are left with three classical ambient noise tracks and a blast of unsettling screams, distortion, breaking glass and gunfire known as Fin. Asbestos, Fratricide Pastorale and Barbedwire Tumbleweed may appear to be mere filler at first, but upon closer inspection all three are superbly unnerving, moving pieces which are truly understated in their ambitiousness. They are perfectly constructed and contribute a lot to an already exceptional album.

Much of Thaw beats with a vicious heart, its superb production lending an unparalleled clarity to its chaotic arrangements. J.G. Thirlwell might not be the most recognised figure in music and Thaw might not be J.G. Thirlwell's most recognised album, but it is a truly unique work which stands as in its own right as a virtually unknown masterpiece which was quite ahead of its time. Thaw is a noisy, abrasive pisstake of all the misery and hatred we humans hold for one another as a race, bold in organic sound and rich in musical subtlety. Thaw also happens to be an awful lot of noisy fun, in a disturbing kind of way.



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user ratings (28)
Chart.
4
excellent
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Comments:Add a Comment 
Meatplow
June 26th 2009


5524 Comments


This was the most impossible review I have ever managed to finish.

MassiveAttack
June 26th 2009


2688 Comments


You're going on one of your patented "review runs" eh?

Wizard
June 26th 2009


19607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I wouldn't call it a run considering Meatplow produces quality reviews.

I remember you doing a review for another one of their albums a while back. I was interested but I was having a hard time tracking down their albums for some reason. Maybe my luck might be better this time.

Digging: Earth - Primitive and Deadly

Meatplow
June 26th 2009


5524 Comments


Cheers. Have you got an email or last.fm the_wizard?

You're going on one of your patented "review runs" eh?


Ah, yes. :] Long period of inactivity then bam, I get a sudden urge to just write.

Wizard
June 26th 2009


19607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers. Have you got an email or last.fm the_wizard?

I will only listen to it if I can not purchase it : ). Downloading or obtaining for free is a last resort kind of thing.

Meatplow
June 26th 2009


5524 Comments


http://www.foetus.org/

If you go to the download section of his website he is offering a lot of his stuff at 320 kbps for a good price, i've bought off here before. Unfortunately, Thaw is not available. If more artists had their entire discography for sale this way I would be a happy consumer.

check your email soon

jrowa001
June 26th 2009


8750 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

im addicted to Hole so i think its time to get this and a couple other of Foetus' albums. i love his vocals

Meatplow
June 26th 2009


5524 Comments


You won't regret it Jeff, on each album he has done something interesting.

I put off listening past Hole and Nail for a long time, a little afraid to move on but in a lot of ways he gets better and better (with perhaps the exception of his last album, it had way too much harpsichord on it for my liking). What i've heard of his thousand and one side projects are worthwhile as well.

Wizard
June 26th 2009


19607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Thank you good sir. I guess I'm shit out of luck for finding their physical copies so I might have to just purchase them from their website.

Meatplow
June 26th 2009


5524 Comments


They are pretty rare I hear. It would be a good find though.

Wizard
June 26th 2009


19607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

I'm all about hunting down rarities.

Meatplow
June 26th 2009


5524 Comments


;-)

If I had a little more time and resource I might pay $200 for a Genocide Organ cassette off eBay, until then.... I don't think it would hurt the group if I managed to find it elsewhere

Wizard
June 26th 2009


19607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

My respect for a band comes from my bank account hahaha. I just don't believe in downloading.

Meatplow
June 26th 2009


5524 Comments


Fair call. I prefer the format rather then having a physical copy (easier to archive, doesn't scratch, get stuck in the tape spools or melt in the sun), so if I can buy it online at a good price I will.

Wizard
June 26th 2009


19607 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Even purchasing off itunes is cool with me. At least the band gets to see 0.00005% of the profit.

Willie
Moderator
June 27th 2009


16116 Comments


Excellent review. I've been waiting for you to get this out. I think you'd like this Wizard.

Digging: Kenn Nardi - Dancing With the Past

Meatplow
June 27th 2009


5524 Comments


Thanks man, I wasn't sure if you had heard it or not. Glad you liked anyhow.

Meatplow
September 4th 2010


5524 Comments


It's a coondoggy hoedown, blackeyed peas 'n' fried nigger with grits and mammy's good ol' catfish, coon on the cob


Never spotted this lyric until now, holy fuck.

Supercoolguy64
November 6th 2014


2199 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

SQUEAL LIKE AYE PIGGEH

Digging: Reactor No.7 - Discography



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