FE<MALE FOU “Sucker Mule’s Dreadful Murder” LP (Suitcase) Review by John Sewell
(Stomp & Stammer) February 2015
As Fe<Male Fou, Italian guitarist/noise artist/composer Filomena Rubino traffics in sonic textures that once would have been classified as industrial music – back when “industrial music” was more akin to musiq concrete: the sound of assembly lines, colliding freight trains and/or the shifting of tectonic plates.
So don’t be misled by my classification of Fe<Male Fou as industrial music. When I say “industrial”, I’m talking about the teeth gnashing jouissance of Test Department, Nurse With Wound and Throbbing Gristle – not the processed, cartoon metal-with-beats of Marilyn Manson and Nine Inch Nails. Or something.
Of course, all of this generic classification and reclassification is the talk of music nerds. And, baby, I’m one too. I digress.
Whether or not what you’ll hear on Fe<Male Fou’s “Sucker Mule’s Dreadful Murder” is music or noise per se, well, it doesn’t really even matter. None of the album’s six tracks are straightjacketed by conventional verse-chorus-verse structure. There is no narrative arc, no beginning or end per se – at least, not a conventional one. Sure, there are climaxes aplenty. But I wouldn’t say that any of the tracks really resolve. Well, if obliteration is your idea of resolution, then maybe.
The album’s six tracks more as affect than as sonic discourses unto themselves. The lyrics are buried among layer upon layer of dissonance, one among many elements among a multilayered collage of feedback that connotes dread, alienation, fear, or some kind of nastiness. This is to say that “Sucker Mule’s Dreadful Murder” is something you’ll feel – but won’t be able to put into words. (Hence, the challenge of writing this review.) Fe<Male Fou delivers the perfect soundtrack for a slow, one-way ride on a creaky elevator to hell.
Yes Rubino creates noise. The thing is, the noises she creates aren’t the result of some happy accident. Sure, there’s probably an element or two of happenstance among her architecture of drones. But for the most part Rubino is in total control. This woman really knows how to torture a guitar. And as we all know, a harsh mistress can lead the willing servant along a pathway to untold pleasures.
Fe<Male Fou’s label Suitcase, is a longstanding institution of America’s experimental/noise sub-underground. The mysterious Atlanta-based label has released piles of lovingly packaged musical curios in various formats over the years. Only the adventurous need apply. For a glimpse into this claustrophobic, terrifyingly opaque artistic netherworld, visit suitcaseaudiovisual.com. (John Sewell)