Monday, February 20, 2012

Scraping Foetus Off the Mix; plus, Transplanted NYC Psychedelica

Foetus, a.k.a. J.G. Thirwell, "reprocessed" the infamous Mars '77-'78 studio recordings.  It is the Thirwell versions that most have heard, including the 1996 Atavistic re-issue 78+.  There has been rumblings of dissatisfaction over the Thirwell treatments (much like the mutterings that Zappa somehow "ruined" Troutmaskreplica - he didn't, although he really could have done a better job - or the guy who "ruined" Strictly Personal by dumping the whole album into a phaser - he did, but that has been corrected on reissues - or even rumors of the legendary "guitar mix" of MX-80 Sound's Hard Attack).  In about 2003, Mark Cunningham reissued the complete studio recordings in their original state, but the reissues were incredibly obscure, especially compared to the Atavistic CD.  Finally, in 2008, No More Records got a clean unprocessed version out to a larger audience.

Were the original releases that were around for so many years from flood-damaged masters?  If so, does that really explain the obnoxious booming reverb that Thirwell soaked everything with?  Without the Thirwell treatment, the Mars LP is at the same time an easier and more radical listen.  Easier, because you don't have that "jangle at the end of a tunnel" sound going (admittedly, it probably bothers me more than most because of my tinnitus); and more radical, because you can better hear the clashing patterns in the music when they're not masked with a ton of reverb.  You can also hear much more of Sonic Youth, and even the Feelies, in the music when it is scraped of the Foetus treatment.

Not sure if there are any No Wave heads in the audience; but if there are, order this from your local music boutique post-haste.  If you already own the Atavistic re-issue, you've got the general idea, but you will want to hear the difference.

The YouTube video below has the unprocessed versions of two songs:

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Some of the Louisville posse ended up in Brooklyn  . . . psychedelic/krautrock head Dominic Cipolla moved his project Phantom Family Halo to the big city because he needed a "jolt of energy".

He got a little boost from Will Oldham on his way out of town: for the anniversary party of (Slint bassist) Todd Brashear's Wild and Wooly Video, Phantom Family Halo did a smoking set, with Oldham and Brashear joining them for the encore (this was the set opening up for Roky Erickson!).  Oldham also recorded a 10" with PFH under his Bonnie Prince Billie moniker.

Here is that collab:

and here is Phantom Family Halo live:

I have three of their four albums, and I like them all very much.  It would be a good idea to start from the latest and move backwards.

Here is a cut from the latest:

So, New York peeps, if this sounds good to you, pick it up.  And if you get a chance to see them live, don't miss it.

I'm out -


shadow of shathragot said...

That live Halo video is rockin!

Bill Zink said...

The Phantom Family Halo will be touring with Acid Mothers Temple (32 shows!) in April and May -

Also doing a free show in Brooklyn 3/3 - tickets at

The Halo are a really good live band, and of course Acid Mothers Temple is supposed to be amazing, so catch that show if you can.