The 12 songs on Drowning in Limbo were originally released on two six-song EPs, 1984's In Limbo and 1985's The Drowning of Lucy Hamilton, before first being combined under this title for the U.K. label Widowspeak in 1989 and reissued in 1995 by Atavistic as part of their in-depth Lydia Lunch reissue program. The Drowning of Lucy Hamilton, the first six tracks, is the soundtrack to one of R. Kern's art-porn fetish films co-starring the titular subject, who also plays piano and Captain Beefheart-style bass clarinet throughout. Lunch's first strictly instrumental work, these six tracks still bear much of her trademark abrasiveness even without her aggressive, caterwauling vocal style, and they're some of her finest work. Those in-your-face vocals return for the six tracks of In Limbo, something of a return to the nearly atonal cacophony of Lunch's earliest work, but with greater delicacy and subtlety thanks largely to collaborator Thurston Moore's skill at varied and intriguing sonic moods. Parts of "Friday Afternoon" are almost pretty, something that could never be said of Lunch's previous work.
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AllMusic Review by Stewart Mason