PRIMUS

The De­sat­u­rat­ing Seven ato Be­ware prog gob­lins! Clay­pool’s crew ex­cel on an­other chil­dren’s story.

Prog - - Limelight - DoM Law­Son

Not con­tent with blow­ing minds to twin­kling, nos­tal­gic smithereens with 2014’s Primus & The Choco­late Fac­tory, Les Clay­pool and his res­o­lutely wonky trio have based their ninth full-length al­bum on au­thor Ul De Rico’s gen­tly bizarre 1978 chil­dren’s book The Rain­bow Gob­lins. You may find your­self rush­ing to find a plot syn­op­sis, but while the source ma­te­rial is a per­fect fit for Clay­pool’s per­verse con­cep­tual world, it’s the mu­sic on The De­sat­u­rat­ing Seven that pro­vides the great­est rev­e­la­tions.

Within their first set of new ma­te­rial since 2011’s Green Nau­gahyde, Primus have sub­tly rein­vented their own sound, skil­fully draw­ing from past glo­ries while boldly stretch­ing out in a way that show­cases the chem­istry be­tween Clay­pool, gui­tarist Larry Lalonde and drum­mer Tim ‘Herb’ Alexan­der. Sec­ond track The Seven is a case in point. With its nods to Dis­ci­pline-era King Crim­son and its woozy, darkly psy­che­delic un­fold­ing, it’s a more point­edly and joy­ously prog ver­sion of what Primus have been do­ing for three decades.

The Trek is sim­i­larly rich in ideas and im­mac­u­lately loose-limbed in de­liv­ery, with every sub­tle change in rhyth­mic em­pha­sis and each spine-tin­gling at­mo­spheric de­tour mak­ing per­fect sense, all blended seam­lessly and blessed with vi­brant ana­logue tones.

It’s not hard to imag­ine the eye-melt­ing stage show that will, per­haps in­evitably, ac­com­pany fu­ture per­for­mances of this al­bum. Primus have al­ways been highly fo­cused when it comes to their vis­ual iden­tity: The De­sat­u­rat­ing Seven flows like a movie, al­beit a re­ally fuck­ing weird one. Even a shorter, more suc­cinct chap­ter like the rat­tling, punchy The Scheme has that nar­ra­tive thrust and depth of imag­i­na­tion driv­ing it for­wards.

Most star­tling of all is The Dream, one of the most thrillingly de­ranged things this band have ever com­mit­ted to tape. It starts with two min­utes of ul­u­lat­ing glitch wrong­ness be­fore Clay­pool’s voice ar­rives, dis­em­bod­ied and wa­tery, un­der­pinned by Alexan­der’s ro­bust thumps and Lalonde’s de­lay-drenched squeaks and scratches. It’s truly psy­che­delic – some­thing Primus have been great at do­ing for years, even though they’re rarely ac­knowl­edged for it – and it gen­er­ates a thick, chok­ing sense of un­ease that’s only partly punc­tured by the skit­ter­ing, gnarly rush of the song’s cli­max.

Most in­tri­cate of the lot is The Storm, eight min­utes of grotesque but oddly eu­phoric ebb and flow that comes across as a dis­tant, de­mented cousin of South­bound Pachy­derm (from 1995’s Tales From The Punch­bowl) but with added rain­bows, gob­lins and flow­ers. As with every­thing else here, the main les­son to be learned is that there’s still only one Primus.

FLOWS LIKE A MOVIE, AL­BEIT A RE­ALLY FUCK­ING WEIRD ONE.

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