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Idiot Flesh


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Idiot Flesh Fancy album cover
4.28 | 27 ratings | 4 reviews | 30% 5 stars

Essential: a masterpiece of
progressive rock music

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Studio Album, released in 1997

Songs / Tracks Listing

1. Dead Like Us (3:53)
2. Idiot Song (6:30)
3. Teen Devil Worshipper (2:29)
4. Chicken Little (9:07)
5. Twitch (4:47)
6. Drowning (5:00)
7. Motherfucker (7:21)
8. Bach Is Dead (1:47)
9. Diggity Cow And The Dandy Mr. Clyde (3:11)
10. The Straw (10:45)
11. Cheesus (Dance Mix) (1:34)
12. People In Your Neighborhood (4:18)
13. Dead Like Us (Reprise) (0:53)

Total Time: 61:35

Line-up / Musicians

- Gene Jun / guitars, violin, singing, metal hat, talking, fancy dancing pig, walking
- Dan Rathbun bass, cello, thing, trombone, bikehorn, screwdriver, saw, singing, talking, teneroon
- Wes Anderson / drums, percussion, marimba, mailing tube w/latex glove, mouth, singing, talking, bassoon, metal, plunger
- Nils Frykdahl / all sorts of guitars, flute, singing, talking, contrabass, castanets

Guest musicians:
- Matt Embrie / piano (9), synthesizers (11)
- Jindra Dolansky / saxophone (11)
- Mantra Ben Y'akova / voice (6 & 11)
- Stacy Black / voice (11)
- Jab / trumpet (7)
- Tony "El Evil" Gallegos / MC (1 & 9)
- Angela Coon / voice (2)

Releases information

CD Vaccination Records (1997)

Thanks to ProgLucky for the addition
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IDIOT FLESH Fancy ratings distribution

(27 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(30%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(41%)
Good, but non-essential (19%)
Collectors/fans only (11%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

IDIOT FLESH Fancy reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Marty McFly
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator
4 stars Basically, this is 61 minutes long show of drunken like freaks that shouts, produces various noises and are having a lot of fun (apparently). However, when we look behind this charade, we can see narration line, uniting element that holds this album together.

That they are crazy you can see from Lineup/Musicians section, instrument like fancy: dancing pig, screwdriver, walking and talking and as far as I hear, lyrics are typical Zapaesque weird stuff.

Musically we got one of the most eclectic mixes that I ever heard. Heavy Metal, Prog Metal, flute, circus sounds, ambient parts, rattling, psychedelic noises, country and dozens of others. After all, this music is based on doing as much "things" as possible.

Actually it's quite pleasant to listen, at least half of this album is harmonic and melodic (even often using weird melody, still it is melody), but you won't be denied dissonant parts too, thrown together like cats into the pit with one purpose. To fight and see which one will survive. This music is the same case - different musical influences are struggling for attention and which one will be dominant one.

Result is unclear, same as this album.

4(+), but I suppose it is better this way.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
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.

Review by siLLy puPPy
5 stars The bizarre and experimental performance group known as IDIOT FLESH began in 1987 as ACID RAIN but after a significant lineup and name change started releasing albums beyond the demo stage with the 1992 release "Tales of Instant Knowledge and Sure Death" which found the like of Pin (Nils Frykdahl) and The Improver (Dan Rathbun) discovering a new partner in crime, namely Captain Dragon aka Gene Jun. The trio along with an army of others joining the party as well as an arsenal of instrumentation including many self-made oddities took their stage show to even greater heights. The world would never be the same.

While often considered Mr Bungle copycats, it should be inculcated into all that these guys started in the mid-80s, a few years before Mike Patton, Trey Spruance and Trevor Dunn had even started their primeval sounding death metal demos. Although now considered a three album lead up to the other trilogy of albums that would be released by Sleepytime Gorilla Museum, this band was in a whole other league in regards to how much effort they put into their albums and live performances. On the performance art side of things, the live settings featured puppet shows, fire eaters, dance troupes and even marching bands.

After all that it seems the studio albums were just the excuse to get the party started but even these albums were just crazy to the hilt with every idea including the kitchen sink thrown into the mix. Hell, there may have even been a kitchen sink turned instrument in this wild bunch! FANCY was the third and arguable most developed of the three IDIOT FLESH releases and came out in 1997, two years before the first Sleepytime Gorilla Museum would emerge and really catch the world's attention. More then just a prequel to the next incarnation of Frykdahl and Rathbun's crazed whims turned into art, FANCY featured 13 crazed tracks that defied all logic, all sensibilities and even to this day will only appeal to the most adventurous and open-minded music addicts of the lot, of which i am one!

This album often gets tagged as disjointed and there's great reason for that. Every track is like a hairpin turn on a musical rollercoaster ride taking you somewhere completely unexpected. Think of this as a musical funhouse at an amusement park for musicians and you will have an inkling what to expect. Far less focused and more scattered than anything the Sleepytimes conjured up, this truly is some of the most demanding musical expression laid down to tape but oh my gawd! it's just soooooo damn clever! The album starts with the beginning of a party coalescing in the form of "Dead Like Us" which quickly is joined by a marching band and is pretty much a loose scattering of participants randomly making noise and chatting up a storm. The music sort of unifies everyone but it's a party after all and sorta like herding cats.

The seriousness of the album starts with "Idiot Song" which presents a more familiar trademark of Frykdahl, the catchy melodic tune accompanied by extremely complex and oft dissonant guitar work. Going for the avant-prog jugular the music is cacophonous roar of staccato instrumentation with cartoonish instruments punctuating the off-kilter time signatures and then everyone breaks out into a sing-along chorus that sounds like one of those rides at Disneyland only with mad music makers deviating from the scripts! "Teenage Devil Worshipper" offers a post-punk-ish sorta energy but fortified with a bouncy beat where the guitar is basically part of the percussion. It's a group effort and has a bit of a Tim Burton Halloween-ish strangeness to it.

And things just get weirder! "Chicken Little" begins like a 20th century modern classical piece with an abstract flute slowly coalescing a melody from the ethers while unidentifiable percussive instruments join in. This track prognosticates the direction Frykdahl and Rathbun would take with the Sleepytime project just a couple years down the line. In fact it very well could be an early working of one of those later tracks as it features bizarre Iannis Xenakis stochastic leaning and those classic SGM time signature breakdowns. This particular track takes the avant-prog angularities to outstanding creative peaks and showcases these guys as ready to take the act to the next level. They even manage to take it into a country hoedown and and avant-Irish jig :D

"Twitch" takes the time signature workouts to a new level with crazy guitar, bass and drum parts battling it out in bizarre ways. One of the more aggressive tunes on board and another that points to the SGM future. "Drowning" might be the most "normal" track on board with an easily absorbed melody in the form of arpeggiated guitars like an 80s metal ballad but given the IDIOT FLESH circus touch and features one of the only guitar solos on the record and it's a doozy! Virtuosity and freakery all rolled into one tasty enchilada! "Mother[%*!#]er" unleashes another torrent of bizarre shapeshifting motifs ranging from crazy avant-prog to crazed chamber rock to funk rock and an ever morphing musical parade that doesn't stop there. One of the weirdest and diverse tracks on the album, that's for sure ; )

And what better way to follow super weird than by a Residents cover song? Now who the hell does that? "Bach Is Dead" appeared on the 1978 "Duck Stab / Buster & Glen" album and IDIOT FLESH nails it remaining extremely faithful to the original. "Diggity Cow And The Dandy Mr. Clyde" as you may have predicted takes you somewhere totally new. Now Frykdahl is singing to a piano run with audience sounds in the background so i guess he's performing at a FANCY restaurant? The piano is out of tune and the audience isn't paying attention so i guess this is some kind of statement about how this avant-garde weirdness mostly falls on deaf ears.

Next up "The Straw" jumps back to flute dominated avant-prog but then gestates into a style that sounds the most like what Sleepytime Gorilla Museum would dish out on their three albums, namely cleverly arranged compositions that cover all grounds: melody, rhythm, avant-garde strangeness and the ability to surprise without losing the gist. All it's missing is Carla Kihlstedt's distinct violin contributions and the metal guitar heft otherwise SGM material. It's also the longest track at just under 11 minutes. By now it's obvious that only the unexpected should be expected on FANCY and the IDIOT FLESH guys throw us yet another curveball with "Cheesus (Dance Mix)" which is a mock radio commercial. This hilarious track is more like something you'd find on a National Lampoon's Radio Hour scenario.

"People In Your Neighborhood" is a mock song of the classic Sesame Street song only this one celebrates the world of pimps and crack addicts! The track takes some liberties by not only using the actually melody but breaks into a Parliament style P-Funk sound. The album ends with a reprise of "Dead Like Us" which brings the album full circle. A very demented circle that is. This album is just plain nuts as well as the end of the road for IDIOT FLESH. While not quite as world class material as what would emerge in the Sleepytime Gorilla Museum albums, IDIOT FLESH really went for the experimental freak show jugular with this one. So many styles and ideas are tackled on this album that it's impossible to convey them all in writing. Just the list of instrumentation and actors on this stage will blow you mind.

While Gene Jun would jump ship, Dan Rathbun and Nils Frykdahl would soon join forces with Acid Rain member David Shamrock, violinist Carla Kihlstedt from Frykdahl's other project Charming Hostess as well as Miatthias Bossi and Michael Mellender. Together they would take many of the sounds heard on this album and make it all more cohesive. Sure this album is extremely disjointed but that's exactly the point! This is the musical equivalent of riding a wild fast-paced roller coaster throughout a colorful amusement park with a soundtrack for every hairpin turn. This is the best of the IDIOT FLESH releases and for those who can handle the most extremes music has to offer, they will looooooove this one to death. I only wish i could've seen this performed in a live setting because all of this music magic is just half of the equation.

Latest members reviews

3 stars Interesting if you like Primus, Estradasphere, Nuclear Rabbit and the likes. They have certainly put some effort into packaging and production. The cover art and the fold out cardboard is very interesting indeed and was what caught my eye. The recording quality is decent as well for a project suc ... (read more)

Report this review (#285569) | Posted by jilgiljongiljing | Tuesday, June 8, 2010 | Review Permanlink

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