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The Flesh
The Flesh
Gern Blandsten Records
www.gernblandsten.com


God. Sex. Death. Forget what you know about the circle of life, about desperate urges or even about the almighty. The Flesh have concocted a radical new religion, a combination of Theodore Sturgeon's novel Godbody, which interpreted sexual union as the true physical manifestation of love and communion, and the James Tiptree, Jr. story "Love is the Plan, the Plan is Death" which presented the drive to reproduce as an inexorable path toward one's own undoing. The Flesh take it further in this closing of the circle; there are no separate physical and spiritual selves; the flesh may corrupt, but our code? Via reproduction: Immortal with our souls thus transmuted and transmitted. Salvation can come in many forms, (with some representations more concrete than contemporary religious abstractions) so put on the flesh, come down, get baptized.

So what is this all about? Even in writing, I still feel as though I've only scratched the surface. Much has already been written about this band's sexually infused lyrics, but don't be mistaken: this isn't the conquestual (is that a word?) bragging and posing of 50 Cent, this is the careening desperation of physical drive. This is the lowest part of our brain compelling us to do things beyond logic, our self-inflicted emotional torture, and our brain's higher order attempts to put it in the context of a greater framework of a horny, nihilistic, corporeal mass-god. I'm surprised that the religious overtones (or maybe they're undertones if no one's noticing them, but I thought they were pretty obvious) haven't been brought more to light since they make the music's lyrical effect so much more powerful and give it greater depth. Coupled with the alternating church and darkwave synth organ sounds that switch back and forth between a progressive enlightenment and the fallen transgressive, and the call and response of Nathan and Gabriella's vocals, this album sits on your shoulders like the proverbial devil and angel, pulling your soul back and forth. As usual, I'm probably reading more into this than was originally intended, but art is replete with unintended, secondary and tertiary meanings and symbolisms. I'm not terribly concerned with whether the artist slyly inserted them under the (dis)guise of mere entertainment or not, my job is simply to recognize and make note of them through the rigor of analysis.

The mechanics of the music almost seem mundane after what I've already written, but if they were somehow lacking, the whole thing would fall apart. The Flesh mix darkwave, rock, punk, gangsta rap, hip-hop, and some Bowie-esque vocals. Sounds terrible, right? Before I even popped it into the CD player, I was thinking of all the potential ways this would suck. But then again, great songwriters are great songwriters regardless of genre or form. The most notable aspect of this mixture is that all of the right elements are in place, and none of the wrong ones; namely, the hokey elements of the punk, rap and hip-hop genres that amount to little more than blusterous posturing. The songs, while retaining an overall similar vibe throughout are just different enough to keep things interesting. Each song has at least two or three catchy riffs, beats, choruses, lyrics or other musical tricks to keep these songs playing on in your head long after the album has ended, which leads me to believe that this may be the best new band of the year. Dark, crazed and desperate, this one simply can't be missed.

-JD


Track Listing:
1. Love Your Fate
2. Death Connection
3. The Lack
4. Sweet Defeat
5. Cuts
6. Lonely Little Hunter
7. Gallows
8. Fall To Heaven
9. Foes
10. Death Ship


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Mike Doughty



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