The Claypool Lennon Delirium
Monolith of Phobos
If you’re a fan of Les Claypool, then there are two things you know about him: 1) He has one of the most distinct and recognizable bass sounds of anyone who’s ever played the instrument and 2) All of his projects kind of sound alike. He brings this double-edged sword to his new collaboration with Sean Lennon. When Lennon is singing, the songs sound like the work of a truly collaborative project. They’re spacey and psychedelic with heavy bass that stands out but doesn’t get in the way. “Cricket and the Genie (Movement I, The Delirium)” is a jaw-dropping tune that brings to mind Barrett-era Pink Floyd. That rubbery bass tone is there, but it sits beside fuzzy guitar and organ while Claypool’s backing vocals generally enhance this song without shouting, “Look at me!” “Bubbles Burst” is a trippy, prog ballad that’s beautiful as well as weird and manages to evoke Lennon’s Dad’s band without being too blatant. When Claypool is singing it basically sounds like Primus. “Captain Lariat” easily could’ve been on their next album, or their last one. Lennon tries to bring his own flavor and it mostly works. For instance, he strums acoustic guitar over Claypool’s bass figure where Larry LaLonde probably would have choked out some extra-terrestrial sounds. But the songwriting is pure Les. He’s the only living man who would attempt the line, “Have you seen Captain Lariat with his tattoo of Sean Penn?”
Don’t get me wrong, the two make a surprisingly good team. Lennon’s psych-rock worship allows Claypool to play with sounds and techniques that his other bands wouldn’t mess with and it sounds like both of them are having lots of fun. The collaborative potential is great and on a few songs they achieve something truly wonderful. I just would’ve liked it if Les didn’t dominate so much. Hopefully this doesn’t turn out to be a one-off for them because they could get even deeper down the psychedelic rabbit hole next time and who knows what else the pair could come up with.