Wow. Not at all what I would expect from Jim "Foetus" Thirlwell, on first listen. So assured, so confident, so eclectic? Where are the scars? The black eyes and obvious anguish? The raw-throated screams? On second listen, I had to take my preconceptions out back and shoot them. Ectopia is soooo Foetus! But a different, perhaps even darker side. All the obsessions are there. Big band orchestration, classic jazz, electro beats, horror soundtracks, melancholy strings, tropical sounds -- just in a different shape and order. Just because one is older, doesn't mean one is all grown up and well-adjusted? Y'know what I mean? "Ectopia" probably oozes pain. That's not my problem. It also oozes good music. There's where I come in.
"The Trembler" kicks the album off with tension-dripping strings that might as well be out of a John Carpenter movie, and a couple of really "oh shit!" moments where you clutch your heart -- y'know when the killer jumps out at you. Couple that with some smooth-as-silk jazz idylls (that sound so damn live) and even more terror and paranoia and you've got a compelling piece of style-clash. Sometimes the drums sound like heartbeats. Yes, I have wet myself. "Cops" is a loungey pastiche of various cop-show soundtracks done in full-on orchestra style. I spotted a bunch of riffs from CHiPs and Sledge Hammer!, but I could be mistaken. Fill in your own, it's '70s action-tastic! Sleazy wah-wah and funky bass, with a big band watching their back! You will feel like you are in a car chase!
"L'Espian Qui A Pleure" marries Carl Stalling's Looney Tunes work, jazz vamps, some nicked lines from the James Bond theme and the beginning bars from the old Spider-Man cartoon ("Spider-Man, Spider-Man/Does whatever a...) that burst up out of nowhere. It's unassailably cool. "Naught" is creeping dread distilled down to eerie strings and voices suspended in air, disembodied and floating, and a shovel scraping along the ground, before hypnotic chimes and tribal drums transport it to a newer, more tangible plane. "Chain Reaction" beats The Chemical Brothers and DJ Shadow at their own game. Fuck, Foetus even throws in a bombastic horn section and Caribbean rhythmic interludes just because he can. "Alectasis" sounds like Coil covering Vangelis' Chariots Of Fire soundtrack. "Tarmac A Gris Gris" sounds like Esquivel and Cab Calloway remixing Danny Elfman's theme to Ed Wood! Are you getting the picture of what an undertaking this fucking album is?
Thirlwell has such eclectic tastes in music and such an extreme compositional style (some of the samples here sound like they were stitched together by a back-alley surgeon -- and by that I don't mean slapdash at all, but it's just so physical and organic at the same time), that it far transcends most of the other faceless dance/trip hop/electronica efforts out there. Ectopia isn't louche or ironic, it's a work of love and art. Give this man some fucking soundtrack work!