Wednesday, October 5, 2011
[artistdirect.com] On Conditions of My Parole, Puscifer gut pop music and reinvent it.
Maynard James Keenan's troupe of musical mad scientists has given birth to the most intriguing and infectious album of 2011. Puscifer's second full-length bubbles brilliantly from the otherworldly chemistry of the chief scientist and his cohorts.
As a result, the record forms an aural pastiche that encompasses the classic vibrancy of Pink Floyd and The Beatles, a wise wit a la The Coen Brothers, and the cinematic scope of a Spaghetti Western soundtrack. There's a healthy dose of wackiness to spice everything up as well—especially on the propulsive title track.
"Green Valley" rolls from subtle banjo into a refrain showcasing the range that made Keenan a legend in the first place. His voice echoes almost angelically, while Carina Round's backing vocals provide the perfect counterpoint. During "Monsoons", a calculated ticking sound pulsates through airy production as Keenan pristinely croons, "Only you can bring the color in".
An orchestral haze envelopes everything and the song treads territory so gorgeously haunting it's only been previously reached by the likes of Robert Smith. The symphonic undercurrent never overwhelms, rather it adds a robust vitality to these moments.
After an ethereal segue, "Telling Ghosts" morphs into heavy industrial as Keenan sways from another divine verse towards a succinct, scorching howl. Round's backing vocals meld to the frontman's just before a final explosion exclaiming, "The more you suck, the more you bleed. The dead know better so listen to the letter". His words resound palpably, as the production allows the space for every note to take hold.
"Horizons" starts with a classical guitar just before strangely danceable beats poke through the folk melody. Keenan tells another enigmatic tale over the synths, and the beats oscillate off-time falling into the guitar's embrace.
In a touch that wouldn't feel out of place on the O Brother, Where Art Thou? soundtrack, a curious banjo begins closing track "Tumbleweed". Round's voice kicks everything off as Keenan harmonizes with her. The song spirals into a futuristic hum, while these men and women of constant sorrow ride off into the sunset to an industrial march.
Conditions of My Parole stands alone in Keenan's catalog and in the larger framework of rock 'n' roll as a whole. It doesn't bow down to what the trending topic on Twitter is or any of the ADD Zeitgeist's whims. It's unlike anything you've ever heard and, as a result, it's even more wondrous.
Movie studios and record labels have been making safe art for far too long. It's hard to even recall the last major studio film that wasn't a rehash or sequel. Very few popular "musicians" push the envelope musically anymore, and that's really why record sales are down. The entertainment world needs more mavericks like Keenan. It's the people who don't give a fuck about pandering that change the world, whether it's Martin Scorsese and Stanley Kubrick or Jim Morrison and Jimi Hendrix.
Thankfully, Puscifer is out on parole, and music will never be the same.
Posted by Dan Goldin at 11:12 PM