Release Date: Jun 3, 2016
Record label: ATO
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock
Combining two significant rock pedigrees with a whole lot of weird, Primus' Les Claypool and Sean Lennon joined forces to form the Claypool Lennon Delirium. And delirium it is. Melding their eccentricities, the Delirium succeed in shaving down each artist's whimsies, reining them in and creating an exciting amalgam. This project could have been an indulgent exercise in psychedelic excess, the result of two mad scientists misplacing merit upon a glorified jam session.
You could be excused for thinking that Monolith of Phobos, the debut album from Primus mastermind Les Claypool and The GOASTT's Sean Lennon, was made with the assistance of some psychedelic substances. But, as the duo told Rolling Stone Australia in May, the only mushrooms these two were feasting on while writing were the porcinis they discovered on long walks together through the countryside. Created at Claypool's home in rural California and fuelled by copious amounts of pinot noir (brewed by the bass player himself), Monolith of Phobos finds the fringe alt-rock/psych-pop players catering to each other's strengths on their new record, delivering an album filled with wonky, whammy-assisted bass lines and melodic guitar noodling.
Like a lot of children of wealthy parents, Sean Lennon doesn’t really have to strive to do much of anything. The nearly 41-year-old son of John Lennon and Yoko Ono is free to dabble in whatever pursuits tickle his fancy with little fear of his life being irreparably damaged if they fail or he bores of them. Being a musician, that has allowed Lennon to wander with a delightful aimlessness around the underground and indie music world.
Primus man takes Sean on a trip. Almost as many American musicians seem to have played in bands with Sean Lennon as have ‘jammed with Flea from the Chili Peppers’ (© all newspapers) in celebrity-fronted supergroups at LA ‘nite spots’. And as a way of showing he’s more than just a surname, it works, thanks in this case to an engagingly loopy clutch of lysergic psych-pop oddities created with Primus frontman Les Claypool.
In the summer of 2015 Primus and The Ghost Of A Sabre Tooth Tiger toured the US together, prompting Les Claypool and Sean Lennon to consider a further collaboration. The Monolith Of Phobos is the first studio album from the pair, and is unsurprisingly rather strange. The album varies in quality, but the two part Cricket And The Genie is a definite highlight; Movement I is a chirpy psychedelic stomp led by the old-fangled wasp-in-a-tin-can fuzz of Lennon’s guitar and a rubbery thwack courtesy of Claypool’s agile bass chops.
As maligned a genre as progressive rock has been over the years, it has certainly proven a deep and diverse well from which many a musician has sought and, often in equal terms provided, inspiration. Yet it’s easy to see how its tendency as a genre towards sprawling, multi-part suites, pretentious classically-informed arrangements and fantasy/sci-fi-indebted lyrics may be more off-putting than not to the majority of the listening public. It certainly requires a very specific type of listener to take in these often overly-long, tedious instrumental passages, nonsensical lyrics and frenzied flights of virtuosity that have long been the hallmark of even the lowliest of prog rock bands.