A band of incomparable renown in American alt-rock history, Primus continue their bizarre post-hiatus trajectory with their ninth studio album, The Desaturating Seven. This is their first record to feature original material since the silence-breaker, 2011's Green Naugahyde, and marks the reunion of the band's classic lineup. Irreverent frontman/bassist with mystique, Les Claypool, is again flanked by drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander, who hasn't appeared on a Primus album since 1995's Tales from the Punchbowl, and guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde.
Claypool and company took a fair amount of flack from critics over their last release, 2014's Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble. That full-length, complete with a Willy Wonka-themed album cover, interpreted music from a film based on Roald Dahl's beloved 1964 children's book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
The Desaturating Seven continues their obsession with bizarre kid's books, but here they are the dreamers of dreams, channelling Ul de Rico's vibrantly creepy tale, 1978's The Rainbow Goblins, into a progressive seven-track narrative. There's a song for each colour of the rainbow, for each goblin of the book, with thematic parallels to be drawn between those villainous characters' poetic gluttony and the ever-expanding real-world rift between the haves and have-nots.
Fans have reason to be excited to have the original trio back in action. With a youthful creative spark tempered by years of experience, these sprawling, progressive compositions demonstrate songcraft beyond the great majority of their catalogue. There are moments here beyond space and time, ambient sonic soundscapes and face-shredding, immortal riffs arising amidst shifting tempos and time signatures. The band sound committed and inspired, revelling in their King Crimson influences even as they flirt with a Green Jelly vibe that has narrow appeal for most, but hits a sweet spot for this reviewer.
The Desaturating Seven finds Primus oddly compelling, as ever. (ATO Records)