Given that they’re currently on a tour in which they’re playing Rush’s A Farewell To Kings album in its entirety, you’d be forgiven for expecting that any new Primus song would be Rush-like. But in listening to their new Conspiranoid EP (digital, vinyl), it’s clear these guys have been listening to more than just Rush as they travel the land.
Their first new music…
since 2017’s The Desaturating Seven, Conspiranoid opens with the somewhat titular track “Conspiranoia,” a sprawling eleven-and-a-half minute epic [which you can listen to here]. And while it recalls Rush’s “2112” in how it seamlessly mixes different parts and moods, it actually sounds more like classic King Crimson, and, at times, Frank Zappa in its instrumentation, use of sound effects (it includes people talking about conspiracies they believe in), and lyrical content (it seems the members of Primus are as annoyed by conspiracy theories and theorists as I am). It’s also much more in the vein of the meaty prog approach of Desaturating than, say, anything Primus included on Pork Soda or Sailing The Seas Of Cheese, which works well for how it bobs and weaves.
Next, Conspiranoid finds Primus continuing to vent on the song “Follow The Fool,” which is much more of a classic Primus track. And not just because it’s shorter (3:45) and doesn’t musically go all over the place. No, it’s more because it has guitarist Larry “Ler” Lalonde riffing atmospherically while bassist Les Claypool lays down an odd, off-kilter, but slightly funky bassline, and drummer Tim “Herb” Alexander gives both of them a rhythmic cushion on which to get weird. It may not be the centerpiece of this EP, but it is the highlight.
Conspiranoid then comes to a close with “Erin On The Side Of Caution,” which sounds even more Zappa-esque than “Conspiranoia,” while also making me think of Captain Beefheart, but always in a way that’s very Primus-esque. It too has Claypool being oblong, and LaLonde being atmospheric, but finds Alexander getting even more off-kilter than on the other tracks, albeit while managing to remain supportive. All of which kind of makes it sound like what the songs from Pork Soda would’ve sounded like if they’d rerecorded them during the era of The Brown Album.
these three tracks work well, flowing from one to another. It’s clear Conspiranoid is meant to be taken as a whole, not as a bunch of loose tunes you’d ultimately toss onto a mixed tape with other non-album Primus songs. Which is why I’m glad they didn’t flesh this EP out with, say, random live tracks from their current A Farewell To Kings tour. Or, for that matter, other shows. Sure, it’s short, and the old man in me wishes it was also available on CD, but as is, Conspiranoid shows that Primus are not ready for their farewell.