Foetus biography circa 1990

The music of J.G. Thirlwell aurally detonates with an unparalleled panoramic intensity. As composer, performer and producer he transcends the common conformitites and complacencies of electronic and acoustic sound manipulation. With a craftsmanship comparable to that of a master animator, Thirlwell, working alone, focuses on the intricate individual elements of a piece while maintaining an inner sense of the cohesive whole. This combination of rich imagination and precise concentration has forged the bedrock of an astonishingly prolific and diverse musical output that has spanned a decade. Thirlwell's prime manifestation, FOETUS, is completely self created, including music, lyrics and artwork. To date FOETUS has released six LPs, seven twelve inch EPs and three seven inch singles. Bearing the name CLINT RUIN he has participated in numerous collaborations with worthy cohorts including Lydia Lunch, Marc Almond, Coil, and Roli Mosimann, with whom he formed WISEBLOOD. Thirwell has also produced, mixed and performed on vast quantities of recordings including many of the releases on Lydia Lunch's Widowspeak label and artists as diverse as The The, Nurse With Wound, Virgin Prunes and Arto Lindsay. His music has been featured in Richard Kern's DEATHTRIP films and a host of others.

Jim Thirlwell moved from his native Australia to London in 1978. At the outset of his musical embarkation he rejected the format of "rock band" as too constraining for his personal vision, and shot swiftly beyond to a liberating solitude to craft his ideas. Thirwell set about devising and compiling a unique vocabulary of sounds and instrumental juxtapositions with which he alchemizes his conceptions.

The first FOETUS release, "OKFM"/"Spite Your Face" appeared in January 1981 on Thirwell's own SELF IMMOLATION label. Over the next two years SELF IMMOLATION embarked on a punishing release schedule, issuing two more seven inches, a twelve inch EP and two LPs, "DEAF" and "ACHE". The name FOETUS remains a constant, but the bloodline is carried through the various siblings: FOETUS UNDER GLASS, FOETUS OVER FRISCO, PHILLIP & HIS FOETUS VIBRATIONS, YOU'VE GOT FOETUS ON YOUR BREATH. The altering egos signify further liberation from the borehorse/barcode many band names become, and embody a fluid mobility of emphasis and intent exemplified in the individual songs themselves. These earliest FOETUS recordings inject syncopated dance rhythms with frenetic, furious energy and cryptic verbal parrying that stimulates intellect, imagination and body.

Inspired by a gamut of sources, FOETUJS concocted dizzying mixes of sounds and images. In 1981's 'Wash It All Off" (rerecorded and rereleased in 1985) the man war whoops "SUPERCALAFRAGALISTICSADOMASOCHISM" against what sounds like the Merrie Melodies theme afflicted with dementia praecox. FOETUS staked out uncharted musical territory with arresting personality.

1983 found Thirlwell drained from the mental and financial strain of putting out records himself. Thus SELF IMMOLANON struck a deal with SOME BIZARRE to license and distribute the recordings. That burden alleviated, Thirlwell delved deeper into his resources and surfaced with "HOLE", as SCRAPING FOETUS OFF THE WHEEL. "HOLE" takes the listener on a rollercoaster ride through violent historical scenarios, self inflicted mental torture, religious delusion/confusion and backwoods lust amidst a densely textured array of melodies, relentlessly pommelling rhythms and myriad sound effects. Three FOETUS twelve inch EPs swiftly followed, then the initial WISEBLOOD single, with ROLI MOSIMANN, late of SWANS. Entitled "MOTORSLUG", it's an incensed, intense manifesto of white line fever and crash 'n' burn lust.

Thirlwell's subsequent long player, "NAIL", (also as SCRAPING FOETUS OFF THE WHEEL), unveiled a darker, more sombre and penetrating FOETUS vision. "NAIL" confronts a world rife with brutality, degradation and the rank depths of human isolaton and oppression. The cultural mythos of the holocaust and the Manson family; the grim reality of serial murder and paranoiacally obsessive self hatred comprise movements in Thirlwell's opus on the horror of modem society.

J.G. Thirlwell relocated to New York City in 1984. Progressively, he and Roli recorded further chapters in the WISEBLOOD saga, culminating in the LP "DIRTDISH" and its attendant twelve incher "STUMBO". Guitar legend Robert Quine contributes ferocious playing to two tracks. Swans alumnus Norman Westberg plays guitar on another, and Hahn Rowe (Branca, Hugo Largo) plays some bass and violin. "DIRTDISH" slithers through disturbed piano blues and sleazy steelfisted bump'n'grind voiced in a hypothermic snarl. The experience of living in New York was evident in two 1987 releases: the mini-LP "BEDROCK" (released under the name THE FOETUS ALL NUDE-REVUE), whose title track is an underworld nocturne riddled with corruption-style brass; and "RAMROD" (released as SCRAPING FOETUS OFF THE WHEEL), underscoring a classic FOETUS dictum, "SAY WHAT YOU MEAN AND SAY IT MEAN" with a whipcracking rhythm track.

Early 1988 saw the release of the long-time-comin CLINT RUIN/MARC ALMOND collaborative EP, under the moniker FLESH VOLCANO, with cover art by ROBERT WILLIAMS.

With the fall of 1988 came "THAW" by FOETUS INTERRUPTUS, which scales beyond its predecessors to reach a peak of ferocity and potency. Thirlwell's voice growls, howls and scowls at its fiercest and most impassioned ever. The music incarnates a primal savagery while maintaining and extending the haunting orchestral sweep of "NAIL".

The scope of "THAW" was eminently suited to the powerful talents comprising the subsequently formed first full FOETUS live band: drummer Ted Parsons (PRONG), bassist Algis Kizys (ex-SWANS, OF CABBAGES AND KINGS), guitarist Norman Westberg (ex-SWANS) and Raymond Watts (PIG). The band, as FOETUS CORRUPTUS, toured Europe in the fall of 1988, performing a cross section of Thirlwell's world including several songs from "THAW", some new compositions and a spine-chilling cover of "The Faith Healer" by Alex Harvey, one of Thirlwell's earliest inspirations.

"STINKFIST", a Clint Ruin/Lydia Lunch collaboration, also appeared in late 1988. Originally recorded in 1986, this mindbending mantra of sexual vertigo employs multiple percussion layers and swooping vistas of apocalyptic crunch and drive. The result: volatile industrial voodoo, drenched irresistibly in bodily fluids and hysterical lust.

Jim Thirlwell's agenda for 1990 is staggeringly formidable. The new decade commences with a double LP from FOETUS INC: "SINK", compiling material from the last five FOETUS EPs, unreleased nuggets, obscurities, rarities and remixes, rapidly followed by a twelve inch EP of all new material, "Butterfly Potion"/"Your Salvation"/"Free James Brown". In addition to the wealth of foetal matter forthcoming are: a seven inch single by THE GARAGE MONSTERS (Clint Ruin, The Pizz and Buttstain) entitled "POWERHOUSE" (originally recorded by the Raymond Scott orchestra in the late 1930s), and an instrumental LP and 12" EP under the name TOXICO PLUS, featuring J.G. T'hirlwell in collaboration with Raymond Watts, Mark Cunningham (Mars, Don King), Lucy Hamilton, Don Fleming (B.A.L.L., Velvet Monkeys, Dinosaur Jr.), Away (Voivod), Hahn Rowe, Roli Mosimann and others. Thirwell describes it as "ethnic music from a civilisation yet to be invented ... lullabies for the unsettled ... ancient music from the future".

As if that wasn't enough, also in progress are a new three track twelve inch EP from WISEBLOOD, and a single from CLINT RUIN and LYDIA LUNCH, their cover of Blue Oyster Cult's "Don't Fear the Reaper".

J.G. Thirwell's momentum continues unabated as he works constantly in his Brooklyn studio, striving for the ultimate.

In the words of The Man himself: "FASTEN YOUR SEATBELT, BABY."



24 Aug '96.