Album Review: Primus, The Desaturating Seven

Primus
The Desaturating Seven

In 1978, The Rainbow Goblins, an obscure children’s book by Ul de Rico, an Italian-born author and illustrator, was published in Germany. The plot is exactly what it sounds like; malevolent goblins go on a hunt to eat a rainbow belonging to a valley of peaceful animals. At times, it reads much more like the creepy, hallucinogen-induced ramblings of an aging stoner than it does a kid’s book. As such, it should surprise no one that Primus decided to make a concept album about it.

Returning for their ninth studio album, The Desaturating Seven will be released September 29 via ATO Records and Les Claypool’s very own Prawn Song Records. It may just be Primus’ strangest release to date, which says a lot considering the band’s eclectic history. Truthfully, if you weren’t a fan of their last few records, most notably Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble, this may not be the album for you. However, if you appreciate Primus’ modern-day approach to creating an intensely stylized, weird, and imaginative record, you’re going to love it.

Some may be attracted to the increasingly groovy, less-aggressive sonic journey that Primus has taken over the years. Songs like “The Trek” at times feel like they have more in common with Pink Floyd than they do with Tales from the Punchbowl-era Primus, which was coincidentally the last album of originals featuring the drumming of Tim “Herb” Alexander. Considering how much the band has evolved since these two eras, it’s an impressive accomplishment that Herb was able to jump right back into an old role, literally without missing a beat.

Others may enjoy the parallels between the album’s metaphoric lyrics and contemporary America. Lessons of gluttony and imperialism are, after all, at the heart of what The Rainbow Goblins was trying to teach. As Claypool has publically stated, it was this subtext that largely inspired the group’s decision to base the album around Rico’s story. Of course, if you don’t want to read too deep into the lyrics, and just want to be entertained by a trippy story about goblins eating rainbows, you also won’t be disappointed.

Bass-fanatics are most likely to enjoy “The Scheme,” featuring the most distinctly “Claypool-esque” riffs on the album. Heavy use of triplets, muting, bending, and other fan-favorite tricks in Claypool’s toolbox abound. Much like other Primus songs that reverse the typical rock guitar and bass relationship, Larry “Ler” LaLonde’s performance perfectly accentuates Claypool’s playing. These guitar parts may not be at the forefront of the mix, but are truly mind-blowing in their own right, and equally worthy of the listener’s attention. The song is further empowered with the return of Herb behind the kit. With the trio back in full-force, the perfect amount of nostalgia is provided for which old-school Primus fans are likely hankering.

While there has clearly been a profound evolution over the years that has now brought us to The Desaturating Seven, there is still an undeniable amount of the group’s quintessential personality here that will please fans spanning all across the colorful spectrum of the Primus discography. The band is set to hit the road this October in support of the album. (ATO Records/Prawn Song Records) – Andrew Humphrey

Tour Details:

October 20 – San Antonio, TX @ Sunken Garden Theater
October 21 – Houston, TX @ White Oak Music Hall
October 22 – Austin, TX @ ACL Live At The Moody Theater
October 24 – Nashville, TN @ War Memorial Auditorium
October 25 – Richmond, VA @ The National
October 27 – Albany, NY @ Palace Theater
October 28 – Washington D.C. @ The Anthem (With Clutch)
October 29 – Port Chester, NY @ Capitol Theater
October 31 – Brooklyn, NY @ Brooklyn Steel
November 2 – Akron, OH @ The Goodyear Theater
November 3 – Cincinnati, OH @ Taft Theater
November 4 – Louisville, KY @ Palace Theater
November 5 – St. Louis, MO @ Peabody Opera House
November 7 – Knoxville, TN @ Tennessee Theater
November 9 – Atlanta, GA @ Tabernacle
November 10 – Orlando, FL @ Hard Rock Live
November 11 – Clearwater, FL @ Ruth Eckerd Hall
November 13 – New Orleans, LA @ Civic Theatre
December 29, 30 – Los Angeles, CA @ The Wiltern