Despite the constant shifts in name (from Scraping Foetus Off the Wheel to Foetus Uber Frisco to Foetus All Nude Revue) and the less frequent variations in aesthetics (all focused around the same unforgiving sonic attack), the music manufactured under the prolific Foetus umbrella was solely the product of one J.G. (Jim) Thirlwell. A native of Melbourne, Australia, Thirwell relocated to London in 1978, where he conceived the basic Foetus concept -- impenetrable panoramas of extremist noise built on tape loops and syncopated rhythms -- as an alternative to the constraints of rock music.
Finding no takers for his work, Thirlwell created his own label, Self Immolation, to issue his debut single OKFM, which appeared under the first of the innumerable variants of the Foetus name, Foetus Under Glass. As You've Got Foetus on Your Breath, he released his full-length debut, Deaf, later that year. Thirwell spent the next several years exploring his brand of industrial sounds as a solo artist, issuing a steady stream of LPs, EPs, singles and compilations before adopting another alias, Clint Ruin, and teaming with ex-Swan Roli Mosimann in 1986 to record the album Dirtdish as the duo Wiseblood.
After 1988's Thaw (recorded as Foetus Interruptus), Thirlwell formed Foetus Corruptus with other members of the Swans, Hugo Largo and Unsane; both the 1989 "official bootleg" Rife and 1990's more above-board Male -- credited to Foetus in Excelsis Corruptus Deluxe -- documented the group's live set. Out of the experience grew Steroid Maximus, a group employing much of the same personnel which produced instrumental music for the scores of imaginary films on 1991's Quilombo and 1992's Gondwanaland. With 1995's Gash, Thirlwell entered the ranks of the major labels thanks to a deal with Sony; the LP, as well as the subsequent EP releases Null and Void, earned the rare distinction of appearing under the simple name Foetus.
Jason Ankeny, All-Music Guide