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Idiot Flesh - Fancy CD (album) cover

FANCY

Idiot Flesh

 

RIO/Avant-Prog

4.06 | 15 ratings

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TCat
Prog Reviewer
5 stars Having been a Sleepytime Gorilla Museum fan for the last 7 or so years, I just had to check this one out. Idiot Flesh split up almost immediately after this album was released and two of the frontmen from this group (Nils Frykdahl and Dan Rathbun) went on to help form Sleepytime Gorilla Museum. So, discovering that there is a precursor to the excellent music by SGM was like finding a treasure.

This music is everything you would expect from SGM plus more zaniness and completely out of the box music. Think along the lines of SGM without borders....more like Mr. Bungle. I don't understand why when people talk about Mike Patton's style of music, that this band isn't even mentioned. Not that they are a cheap imitation. They are the embodiment of the perfection of schizo-music. This is pure RIO or avant garde music, though somewhat on the heavy side, but maybe not as metal sounding as SGM. You'll understand when you hear pretty much every type of music in some form or another. Yet even though this album runs the gamut of every genre of music known to man, it still comes across as being organized, it's not a mish mash of ideas, these are tight compositions made by a bunch of genius musicians. Pretty much all of the members of the band are multi-instrumentalists, and they use their talents to the extreme here. I think everything including the kitchen sink gets played as an instrument here.

Nils vocals are amazing and if there is a lead singer here, I guess it would be him, but apparently everyone in the band sings. The vocals are very much similar to SGM as you would expect, thick and almost guttural but broken up by the band. And there are many, many times when the whole hellish choir of a band sings together. Because this is more than a concept album. This is an event. And apparently that is true if you have been lucky enough to attend one of their shows.

So, what stands out most of all on this album? Well the 1st track introduces the craziness you are about to hear with a march style song that reminds you of a procession of lunatics, or idiots. Then "Idiot Song" comes along and you know by that song just what you are in for. Just try to explain it or analyze it. You could write a book about everything that is going on here. "Chicken Little" is a 9+ minute rendering of the famous children's story. Just to prove that this isn't just a bunch of strange people making silly music, they use quotations (or bits and pieces) of modern- classical composers throughout this song, namely Bela Bartok (a favorite of Frank Zappa by the way), Pierre Boulez, and Iannis Xenakis who are all credited on the song. The song basically tells the story in it's schizoid kind of way following the traditional story except the sky falls in the end.

Also, "Bach is Dead" is a short cover from none other than The Residents, another band known for it's zaniness and avant garde style. Of course, this is Idiot Flesh's way of paying homage to them. You also get their version of the Sesame Street classic "People in Your Neighborhood" done in their own manner as a skit/song. Another long track is "The Straw" which uses the poetry of "The Hollow Men" from T.S. Elliot. This is a mostly heavy track, but don't expect anything normal here. There is a lot of pulling every instrument involved to it's extreme use.

This is by every means a prog-rock masterpiece, especially as an avant-prog album. The meters are all over the place, constantly changing within songs, but this all works together because these songs are carefully constructed and organized, so if you fear listening to this because of aimlessness or no direction, then let your fears be forgotten. This is good stuff especially for lovers of quirkiness, humor in music, and ingenuity. How is it that this album is pretty much unheard of? This is a 5 star masterpiece and deserves to be placed alongside any of Mike Patton's best.

TCat | 5/5 |

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