Their twenty eleven release, Green Naugahyde
, sounded like electrified funk rock. That
one seemed to be chock-full of recycled musical ideas from their past recordings. It was still popular and reached the number fifteen spot on the Billboard 200 chart. Their twenty fourteen effort, Primus
and the Chocolate Factory
with the Fungi Ensemble, was a series of cover songs from the soundtrack of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory
. It was a fascinating mix of the early seventies songs and Primus
’ unusual style. This was another popular album, getting to seventeen on the Billboard 200 chart. This current release, The Desaturating Seven
, came out three years after their previous offering. It is a seven track, thirty five minute concept album. The music and lyrics were written by Les Claypool
. He was inspired by an old book entitled The Rainbow
Goblins. All of the vivid artwork was done by Ul de Rico. He is an Italian painter and author of children’s books. His most famous book was The Rainbow
Goblins in seventy eight. It was about seven goblins who go around drinking the seven colors of the rainbows.
The opening track, The Valley, starts off slowly with the whistling sound of a woodwind instrument and gentle guitar picking. Special guest, Justin Chancellor, gives a cartoonish narrative in a gruff yet gentle voice. “Be leery the fool, that wrangles the rainbows, filling the landscape with fear.” A catchy bass melody saunters in and is soon joined with a pleasant bongo performance. The guitar is picked at mid range notes and blends in with the percussion. The bass music flutters unsteadily and the guitarist sounds out with a subtle melody. Then Les later sings the narrative, with one of his funny voices. Singer/songwriter/vocalist Leslie Claypool has been a very busy man. During the summer of twenty sixteen, he collaborated with Sean Lennon on a psychedelic rock album entitled The Monolith
of Phobos. The bassist usually commands the songs with hip grooves or flouncing rhythms. Periodically it goes lethargic and the guitarist or drummer gets his turn to stand out. He sings boldly with a humorous personality and sometimes sounds like a cartoon animator.
Larry Lalonde wasn’t Primus
’ first guitarist, when they formed in eighty four. But he has performed on all nine of their studio albums. He has his guitars custom made by Fender and visits them at their factory. His subtle picking often rambles dramatically with old fashioned melodies. The guitarist frequently plays an ambient role, but sometimes comes through at a technical level and occasionally dominates a song. The fourth song, The Scheme, starts with an alarming high note guitar melody. The bass music rolls along with emphatic twangs and the drummer plays intricate shuffling patterns. Les sings with a melodic lilt and sounds less humorous than usual. “Schemers always scheming and they’re scheming all the time.” “By the flicker of the campfire, they scheme in dimly shine.” Then an aggressive bass rhythm bursts forth, with some flashy jazz styled drumming. There are some powerful low bass notes and a bongo solo towards the end.
The seventh number, The Storm, starts out dramatically with bumbling bass lines and mid range guitar picking. Les eccentrically utters out the lyrics, with his humorous personality. “The seven start to swarm, anticipating gluttony with the coming of the storms.” “If gluttony were a virtue, the seven would be saints.” The percussionist joins in with a mix of bongo beats and drum rolls. Then halfway in the music takes a majestic turn, with bold bass rhythms and high note guitar leads. It has the texture of a humorous polka, with a flamboyant flair. “Drowning
in the colors they had come to steal.” “The valiant persecuted served a devastating meal.” Drummer/percussionist Tim Alexander hasn’t always been with Primus
, but this is his seventh studio album with the band. In twenty fourteen, he suffered a minor heart attack and underwent triple bypass surgery. But he had a second heart attack in twenty sixteen and has recovered. He uses a conventional drum set, along with bongos and other percussion instruments. There are stretches of time when the percussions are absent, but he manages to surprise us with some snare drum flare ups or hard bongo slapping patterns. It often has Latin textures, but always sounds nice and complements these musical schemes.
The Desaturating Seven
reached number twenty six on the Billboard 200 chart, which was lower than their past two albums. There were some parallels to Primus
and the Chocolate Factory
with the Fungi Ensemble, with some woodwind and violin performances. But no credit was given for those instruments in the booklet and The Fungi Ensemble weren’t involved. Sometimes the cartoonish presentations make it sound like children’s music. The bass instrumentation is most prominent as usual, but each musician has his moments to impress. There are plenty of high quality jam sessions and folksy songs that sound like old fashioned polkas. But it has atmospheric moments and on some songs there are droney stretches of time. The funk rock routines of Antipop
and Green Naugahyde
were getting dull. Primus
and The Chocolate Factory
was a good and entertaining album. But The Desaturating Seven
is a little bit better than that and the music sounds more original than their past two albums. These are very fine performers, so the difference is in the songwriting.