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Cheese Wiz

Primus releases its "Brown Album"

By Gil Kaufman

YOU'VE HEARD OF the Beatles' classic White Album and, of course, both Prince and Metallica have their infamous Black albums. But the Brown Album? Whether you like it or not, that's the name of the latest odd affair from Primus, the acid-drenched punk-funk outfit headed by Sonoma County resident Les Claypool. The new album is scheduled for release July 1. It's the first recording with their new drummer (and ex-Limbomaniac) Bryan "Brain" Mantia, who made his concert debut last month at the Phoenix Theatre.

Brain, as his friends affectionately refer to him, replaced departed member Tim "Herb" Alexander in the Bay Area weirdo prog trio last year before the recording of the 15-track effort. With Alexander gone, Primus has focused on its more eccentric side; for the new album it has slipped further into an oddball musical abyss not unlike that of its more conceptual cross-town homeboys, the Residents.

Packed with a raft of new characters, hard-to-decipher scenarios, and plenty of band leader/ bassist Les Claypool's signature nasally vocals, the Brown Album is one of Primus' hardest-funking, high-energy albums to date.

Claypool and Brain connect in lock groove on "Golden Boy" for a meaty, bass-heavy groove, while the seesaw tempo of "Over the Falls" is dictated by Claypool's swaying bass and Brain's off-kilter drumming for a song even creepier than their 1993 hit "My Name Is Mud." The self-produced album was recorded at Claypool's Sonoma County compound, Rancho Relaxo, this past March using all analog equipment. That accounts for the rich, earthy sound of "Camelback Cinema," a driving, edgy number that features thick, fuzzed-out guitar from Larry LaLonde and a metronomic steady beat from Brain or the live, organic jam feel of the hard fusionlike "Bob's Party Time Lounge."

Primus manager David Lefkowitz says "the band is the most excited they've ever been about an album and the prospect of touring."

Primus will unveil the new creations during a two-week European tour from mid-June to early July, followed by a summer-long stint on the Main Stage of the Horizons of Rock Developing Everywhere (H.O.R.D.E.) tour.

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From the June 12-18, 1997 issue of the Sonoma County Independent.

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