Review: Primus, ‘The Desaturating Seven’

Primus has always been an innovative group. Under the warped leadership of bassist/vocalist/songwriter Les Claypool, Primus has branched out over their 20+ years of playing music, touching on prog, gutter punk, funk metal, and that indefinable sort of music that only the truly unique can produce. With their newest album, The Desaturating Seven, Primus returns to their creepy, murky, psychedelic prog-rock influences, all within the framework of an Italian children’s book.

The book, The Rainbow Goblins, is the basis for this new concept album from the legendary oddball trio. It tells the story of a valley of rainbows menaced by seven goblins who feed on color and drain all vitality and joy from the world. It works supremely well with Claypool’s trademark storytelling style; his eerie voice and bouncy yet unsettling vocals over thick, angular bass and the spindly, noodly guitar lines from Larry LaLonde, all over Tim Alexander’s signature drums.

As with most Primus music, the music is a little skittish and mischievous; however, with The Desaturating Seven, the usual dark carnival-esque overtones are laid bare into a much more fantasy-influenced, King Crimson-style heaviness with a delicious prog twist and of course, the singular Primus spin on things. The way the story is laid out in the lyrics is particularly engrossing (see the impossible-to-get-out-of-your-head chorus of “The Trek”) as the album takes you on the journey of the Seven to the Valley of the Rainbows on their hunt for some tasty colors.

The songs on The Desaturating Seven are longer on average than most Primus material as well, with more intricate breakdowns and multiple thematic movements and recurring melodic ideas rolling off one another into a twisted storm of in-your-face goblin rock, as the band itself referred to the album.

Of course, I recommend listening to this album, as I do with all records, straight through for your first sitting. This music is an actual story though, and while the songs stand perfectly well on their own, it is a real treat to sit and listen to the entire story and soak it all in, continually surprised by the left-field antics only Primus can provide. It’s right in that sweet spot between Green Naugahyde and Tales From the Punchbowl: plenty of expansive proggy goodness drenched in noise, and plenty of the super-tight, pinpoint spaz funk-metal that made Primus famous in the first place.

If you’re a Primus fan, there’s so much here to love. If you’ve never listened before, plug this into your earholes and get ready for a journey into Claypool’s own valley of rainbows. It just might not be the same colors you were expecting.

Rating: 8 out of 10

Primus’ The Desaturating Seven is available at retailers everywhere.