Even among the very strange artists who pioneered industrial music, Foetus was an outlier. While that project—the nom de noise of J.G. Thirlwell, a/k/a Clint Ruin a/k/a about a zillion other names—indulged deeply in that movement’s difficult, grating sounds and nihilism that approached absurdity, Thirlwell never bound himself to the genre like industrial’s grimly serious noise explorers or its goth-crossover synth mopers. Foetus, while expressing a self-loathing impossible in any organism with an intact survival instinct, also expressed a wicked and wry sense of humor, not only in the one-man-band’s name, which varied from release to release (You’ve Got Foetus on Your Breath, Foetus Interruptus, Scraping Foetus off the Wheel, Foetus All-Nude Revue… this list could go on for awhile), but in the music itself, which cheekily incorporated elements from classical music, showtunes, film noir and spaghetti western incidental music, even doo-wop.
Check out the incredible and representative “Enter the Exterminator,” from the 1985 album Nail (Thirlwell beat the Jesus Lizard to the punch on the all-LP-titles-will-be-four-letters-long schtick), chosen because it blew my mind when I was a kid, and it got me started on exploring the industrial program as much as anything off of Micro-Phonies or Twitch. The at-once growled and whispered lyrics snared me, but it was the music that compelled me to the record store. NSFW for bad words, jobber.
Not one to sit still, in the later half of the ‘80s Thirlwell formed the duo Wiseblood with Swans drummer Roli Mossimann, which was about as bludgeoning a project as you’re imagining, and The Flesh Volcano with Soft Cell’s Mark Almond. In 1988 he released the absolute must-have Stinkfist, a collaborative EP with no-wave heroine Lydia Lunch. That EP features two tracks of tribal-drumming insanity plus the ten minute “Meltdown Oratorio,” an admirable nightmare of Neubauten-esque slow-burn menace spiked with still more manic tribal percussion. Even if Lydia Lunch monologues aren’t your thing, this is really fucking great. (If I even need to tell you that a Lydia Lunch piece is NSFW for profanity, um, hi, welcome to Dangerous Minds, we hope you like what you find here.)
More mayhem from Clint Ruin, after the jump…