Focused, sinister experimental rock.
On Monolith of Phobos, their first collaboration as The Claypool Lennon Delirium, Primus singer/bassist Les Claypool and Sean Lennon cook up a delightful mixture of sinister characters and dream-like instrumentals. The release’s 11 tracks lay out a seedy underbelly, filled with the likes of Mr. Wright, who “sets up little cameras ‘cause he likes to watch you sleep,” and Captain Lariat, “gallivanting through the night just to irritate the right.”
Although surreal and character-focused lyrics can quickly grow stale (see WHY?’s cringe-inducing Golden Tickets), The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s tracks are ceaselessly bizarre and unflinching. On “Oxycontin Girl,” Claypool sings with wry detachment about a girl who “ran out of pills, scored on the street / now her lips are turning blue.” The duo’s lyrics, furthermore, are bolstered by ornate arrangements that meld the best of Lennon and Claypool’s talents.
In contrast to many psychedelic projects that fill up as much sonic space as possible with swirling synths and impenetrable fuzz, The Claypool Lennon Delirium’s tracks are often sparse. Claypool’s bass parts, just as inventive and gritty as they were in Primus’ work, take center stage during many tracks, such as “Mr. Wright,” “Breath Of A Salesman” and “Oxycontin Girl.” On mostly instrumental tracks like “Cricket And The Genie – Movement II, Oratorio Di Cricket” and “There’s No Underwear In Space,” the duo’s all-hands-on-deck, smorgasbord style of arranging leads to complex songs that necessitate listening to them over and over. The fact that Lennon and Claypool are both prolific multi-instrumentalists undoubtedly factors into the musical creativity and excellence that abounds in the album.
For a first-time collaborative release, Monolith of Phobos far outpaces albums by groups that played together for years. Claypool and Lennon’s songs are creative, detail-oriented and experimental while still remaining focused. In short, the album is everything a listener could hope for from a project that opens with a song about a rock on one of Mars’ moons, and features a track (“Bubbles Burst”) about Lennon’s fascination with Michael Jackson’s pet chimpanzee.