What makes Primus’s first studio disc since 1999’s Antipop sizzle (some would even say frizzle) is the creative pull between drummer Jay Lane, who left the band before its first album, and a studiosavvy Les Claypool (guitarist Larry LaLonde rounds out the rambunctious trio). Lane’s crisp drumming and energy is ear candy in an era of push-button percussion, yet it’s Claypool’s studio manipulation and sonic processing (there’s nary a clean bass sound, nor a duplicate one, on any of the 13 tracks) that ultimately define Primus 2011.
Indeed, Les has even more bass tones and personas than vocal ones, starting with the overdriven riff and crazed-hillbilly rap on “Hennepin Crawler.” “Last Salmon Man” summons the metallic fifths of John Entwistle. “Tragedy’s a-Comin’” is a slap-’n’-effects Bootsy/P-Funk jaunt, while his thumb adds a tumbleweed grit to the cowboy two-feel of “Lee Van Cleef.” Elsewhere, harmonics erupt from “Extinction Burst” and bowed electric upright greases “Jilly’s on Smack.” Of course, Claypool is most dangerous when the pulse slows and he gets to subdivide, as on the spectacular sextuplet subhook of “Eye’s on the Squirrel.” Present-day Primus is darker and denser, but hey, so is the world. (CJ)