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Alien Sex Fiend
Fiendology Ned Raggett , September 6th, 2017 08:34

The most comprehensive compilation yet of Nik and Mrs Fiend's greatest hits.

Whenever I’ve tried to exactly sum up Alien Sex Fiend - and I’ve tried, many times - ultimately I fail. They’re a band who so perfectly fall between the supposed cracks that define genres that they really are their own thing. You can’t just talk about Cramps-inspired psychobilly, you have to talk about Jamaican dub; you can’t mention Alice Cooper without noting Suicide. (And heaven help you if you forget Screamin’ Lord Sutch’s campy mania or 80s electro or 90s techno.)

Fiendology: A 35 Year Trip Through Fiendish History 1982-2017 A.D. And Beyond is the latest in the series of compilations and overviews of the continuing adventures of Nik and Mrs Fiend and their irregular collaborators over the years, and at three discs it’s easily the most comprehensive yet, covering 'hits' such as 'Now I’m Feeling Zombified', 'EST (Trip To The Moon)' and 'Smells Like…', more obscure favourites and, of course, many of the remixes that helped scramble expectations almost out of the gate. (Personal recommendations include the 12” mix of 'Attack!!!!' and 'Ignore the Machine [Electrode Mix]' but the list goes on, and much more could be included.) Nik’s gleefully deranged but always intentionally hilarious howl - the better to often deliver sometimes perfectly pointed, even strangely affecting lines - and Mrs Fiend’s keyboard and sample constructions remain the throughline: they have always been a perfectly balanced team.

The handiest thing about the collection lies in part with its chronological reach - the Anagram material has been reissued any number of times, forming the basis of various earlier comps, and it’s the bulk of what’s available here, reflecting the seemingly nonstop run of releases the band put out over its first decade. But it’s the inclusion of later work released on the band’s own label 13th Moon (not too far from its own 25th anniversary) that helps to catch the story up all around, even including two just-recorded tracks, 'Carcass' and 'Invisible'. Songs like 'Dance Of The Dead' and 'On A Mission' often have a murkier, choppier edge, but through the years Nik still most often sounds agreeably crazed, Mrs Fiend’s synths conjure their own atmospheric mania and one gets the clear sense that there’s only one thing that’ll stop them, hopefully not for a long while to come.

With an extended appreciation from Kris Needs in the liner notes, as well as a shorter one from Youth - both of whom had key roles in the band’s early success - Fiendology is a labour of love, but above all else, it’s fun. Even in a time when the real horrors and anxiety constantly press in, a quick blast of something like 'I’m Doing Time In a Maximum Security Twilight Home' helps make things more bearable. (Though I admit - it would have been great if 'Sample My Sausage' had made the cut, too.)

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