“DD Review: Primus – The Desaturating Seven.”

Score: 9/10


In 2003, Primus put out a DVD music video collection, Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People. Now, in college when I saw it I probably thought it was just another annoying hippie title of a pointless stocking stuffer, but viewing the band’s Woodstock ’94 outing adds a whole new layer: PEOPLE can’t even emulate what Les Claypool does, in a million years.
On stage, Claypool, the bass player and front man of Los Angeles’ gen-x metal-funkers, makes a regular routine of igniting a blistering peal of slaps and rhythms, all while singing his readymade songs and… yes, dancing across the stage, parallel to its front, hoe-down-style (roughly). In regards to a couple of posts I made recently, the anti-“indie” sentiment that’s materialized in the last five years or so (which to be sure reminds me of the smell of human sewer gas, sort of like the whole world farting at once) does have SOME validity, in so far as certain bands are literally trying to get by without technical skill, a masquerade Mudhoney indeed once pardoned, although as we know not everybody has the personality of Mudhoney.
Primus SORT OF has personality — they have, like, a BAD personality. This, though, is probably better than none at all. They are definitely not an act which has ever taken themselves too seriously, as far as I’ve gathered. Their career-opening good-cuisine-gone-bad trifecta of Frizzly Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese and Pork Soda [1] garnered quite the love/hate response from the public: the band would form an occult rapport with the jam world, often scourged by critics justly for excessive simplicity. Perhaps deep down, Primus were always more serious than they let on, they just hated everybody and everything too much to make it known.
Well, as you might have seen on FOX News, we’re living in somewhat serious times these days, and on The Desaturating Seven Primus seem to be growing up right along with us, or ME, to be exact, me finally being to the point in my music listening where sheer NOISE isn’t enough to leave my jaw gaping. Also, never has the whole “jam” association made more sense, because on The Desaturating Seven there is simply more going on in the mix with this band than there ever was, in the past. “The Seven” opens with an immediate clip of a tape played backwards, “The Trek” then bequeathing us a nice ambient ukulele intro before noodling off into funk-metal demagoguery, true to form. The petulia-hawking, hacky-sacking camp, too, would marvel over “The Seven”’s descent into seven-four time-signature in bridging breakdowns (akin to the Dead’s “The Eleven” which takes 11/4), if they weren’t too baked to notice, that is.
Typically I try to avoid listening to lead singles, just because the format of my site dictates that I imbibe albums as respective wholes without bias, but to be honest… er… I wasn’t expecting this Primus album to be particularly GOOD (bitter beer face here, just a lil’ bit). But back in early September I took in the masterful “The Scheme,” centerpiece to Primus’ epochal 2017 return to form [2], which has the band not so much doing more THAN what they used to, but just more OF what they used to, THAN they used to, if that makes any sense. Here the meter runs out in a brisk 6/8 giving the song a feel of like a twisted square-dance or something (Les Claypool’s just a big redneck deep down, by the way), but the band is now playing with a tightness that undoubtedly reflects fathoms and fathoms of practice and dedication to these things. Primus have always been focused, really, it’s just that in the old days what they were focused on was losing all your respect through pointless or gross juvenility, whereas now they seem poised to create a legitimate American soundtrack to these dystopian times, befitting them in mood and, maybe, lyrical theme (“the desaturating seven” is apparently a group of goblins trying to take over the world, straight out of a children’s book called Rainbow Goblins). Storming from the gate, the band attack these grooves of rhythm in stunning lockstep, Tim Alexander’s drums sounding punchy and scrappy, a sort of high-pitched but taut gut-punch to them. The lyrics seem pretty good… I don’t pay too much attention to them, to be honest. Every person’s perspective in life is but a modicum of the overall whole. Short of being glad to see PRIMUS gather up this much momentum and kinetic energy in 2017, I’m more in tune by far with just the fact that alternative rock still hereby reigns supreme in America.
[1] Interestingly, the first album Primus ever put out was a live album, Suck on This! in 1989. It’s also interesting that their first album was called Suck on This! at all, too, when you think about it.
[2] I say this of course in the cliched sense so the ironic thing is that The Desaturating Seven really IS more of a return to the band’s old form — that bass-stomping twisted alt-rock — than most trios could or would see fit to harvest 28 years into their careers.

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