Primus
Primus and The Chocolate Factory With The Fungi Ensemble


3.0
good

Review

by Simon CONTRIBUTOR (232 Reviews)
October 18th, 2014 | 85 replies


Release Date: 10/21/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination.

If there is one thing you’ll take home from listening to a Primus album it’s the feeling of being disturbed, confused and oddly satisfied by Primus’ unique and strange sonic pallet -- matched by crazy vocals and lyrics. If there is one band out there to carry the torch from the eccentric musical style of the late Frank Zappa, it's Primus; you can always bet on being sent on a crazy journey. 2014 sees Primus in a special place, with the classic trio back in action together; Tim "Herb" Alexander got behind the kit for The Chocolate Factory & Fungi Ensemble, marking this as the first time in nearly 20 years they've all recorded an LP together. Fans have been highly anticipating the upcoming album to see if that flare is still there after all these years.

Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble is, as the title suggests, based on Charley and the Chocolate Factory, but, as this is Primus, you can expect a warped version of the subject matter. From the moment the album starts, to when it finishes, you’ll come across the trademark songs found in the classic 1971 film, only with a trippy twist; thanks largely to Les’ obscure vocals and droning bass, mixed perfectly with Larry’s delay and guitar effects. The intro track, "Hello Wonkites", kicks in with the melody from "Pure Imagination" (The most commonly known song associated with Charley and the Chocolate Factory.) and slowly builds up, becoming more dark and odd, before slipping into the twisted “Candy Man”. As the song goes on you start to become more disturbed and uncomfortable -- infact, the way they've turned the classic songs on their head is nothing short of genius. Primus take some very happy children's songs and masterfully morph them into eerie, ominous beasts; they're crafted so well, its as though they were the band's songs all along. This is the recipe you'll find throughout the LP, and it is definitely one of the strongest aspects of the album.

For the most part the album is enjoyable. The downside" It never gets past that. Most of what is appealing to the average Primus fan is the crazy styles and musicianship each album has to offer; but this LP is very reserved, mainly due to its restrictions of being a parody soundtrack. So everything that you’d normally look for in a Primus record is toned down, and there’s nothing wrong with that, but with Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble the album suffers a little bit because of this. The album never really finds its footing, never quite kicks off. Sure, you’ll find the Frizzle Fry-esque build-ups scattered around the album (Especially in the latter half of the album.), but nothing ever stands out. You’ll still be tapping your foot to the infectious rhythms, but never quite as hard as you would with the rest of their discography; songs just fade out, rather than end with a satisfying conclusion. But, again, Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble's restrictions fall on being a soundtrack, so the seamless fade in and out approach to songs is nothing new for a score; and that's precisely what this album is attempting to tackle. So, with the music taking a backseat, many will focus their attention onto Les’ vocals, which just so happens to be great; using the signature twang everyone knows him for, the surprise actually comes from how well they accommodate the music. However, the singing never really ups the game to make up for the voided space the music left behind. What's worse, people who've disliked Primus in the past have always found it hard to look past Les' acquired voice, before giving the superb music on offer a chance; this time around it won’t win over haters of the band, but it’ll also struggle to please the fans, due to its minimality and lack of what makes them appealing in the first place.

What you’re left with in the end is an album that does its own thing. You can enjoy Primus & the Chocolate Factory with the Fungi Ensemble for its goofy novelty and revel in the disturbingly funny twists and turns it lays out for you, but it's a novelty that will only last for so long. It’s not the deepest or most layered record, and for that its life expectancy is short-lived. It’s great to see the trio back at it, and they’re tight as hell on this record; Herb's drumming is great, and they all work off each other really well. But the album suffers from some stagnant songwriting that tends to repeat itself with little pay-off. It’s a fun ride, but one you'll only ride a couple of times. And ultimately, you'll be left wishing you got a little more excitement before it ended.

Worth a checking out.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 18th 2014


15074 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Seriously though, I can't stress how well they make some of the happiest songs ever so warped and disturbing. lol

Digging: HEALTH - VOL. 4 :: SLAVES OF FEAR

Froot
October 18th 2014


1910 Comments


Fourth paragraph needs to be tied up.

Awesome review. Defo gonna check this out. The concept is what holds my interest the most.

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 18th 2014


15074 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Cheers froot.

I've tried to make the paragraph feel more resolved.



Yeah, the concept is definitely one of the strongest points to the album, and if you go in listening to it with that frame of mind you'll enjoy it.



Not one for picking songs out though i don't think.

tempest--
October 18th 2014


20629 Comments


primus sucks

Supercoolguy64
October 18th 2014


8761 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

nice rev, need to check this forgot it came out around this time

Digging: Cave In - Until Your Heart Stops

ManiacCop
October 18th 2014


49 Comments


This album gets exponentially "weirder" the louder you play it. I'm only four songs in, but even by Primus standards, it's weird. Which is cool, because it doesn't exactly turn your living room to a mosh pit.

PostMesmeric
October 18th 2014


742 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

I'll save my review for the end of my Primus discog review series. Definitely expecting some weird stuff. Solid review overall. Pos.

scottpilgrim10
October 18th 2014


4750 Comments


Damn you beat me to it, I guess I'll wait to post my review. Great Job! pos
I really don't care for this album except for the closing track, which is amaaaaazing.

KjSwantko
October 18th 2014


10783 Comments


Nice review, Simon. Pos.

I love old old primus but I think I'm gonna pass on this.

RVAHC13
October 18th 2014


826 Comments


Shiza!!, I had no idea they even had a new album out (not a big fan of the album name tbh.) If it's anything like his solo work or their last album I'm not sure i'm too interested.

Frippertronics
Staff Reviewer
October 18th 2014


18396 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

pretty good album

Digging: Xiu Xiu - Girl with Basket of Fruit

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 19th 2014


15074 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Cheers guys.



It's worth a spin like, KjSwantko, but just leave what you normally love about Primus at home. haha



Glad the penny dropped more with you fripper. I wish I could have enjoyed it more.

insomniac15
Staff Reviewer
October 19th 2014


4713 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

This is crazy, but it's fun lol. Still, it's a bit inconsistent with so many 'interludes' (even if at the end I felt like I had enough of it). Great review, pos.

Digging: Motorpsycho - The Crucible

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 19th 2014


15074 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Cheers insomaniac.





VanFullOfSpooks
October 21st 2014


23 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

There is lots of fantastic songs on this!



Candy Man, Golden Ticket, Pure Imagination and Farewell Wonkites.



While it does sound like Les Claypool's solo work, it is still a fun, trippy and errie album.



Also good review, even though I disagree on how it is just OK lol

Digging: Born of Osiris - The Simulation

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 22nd 2014


15074 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Glad you liked it man.



I enjoyed the theme and I loved how they handle the songs, but I just wanted a bit more from the album. It lacked Primus' signature identity.

VanFullOfSpooks
October 22nd 2014


23 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I see where you are coming from, because this is definitely not a Pork Soda or a Fizzle Fry sort of album.





I was contemplating dropping this to a 3.5 but after a few playthroughs the album really grew on me! I do

wish they would go back to their older style but they JUST got Herb back in the band and I think they wanted

to do something a little slower.



You gotta give Les kudos points for taking such happy songs and making them trippy and eerie! Its great

stuff!

YetAnotherBrick
October 24th 2014


6691 Comments


"2014 see’s Primus in a special place with the original trio back in action together for the first time in nearly 20 years"

uh, Green Naugahyde?

DrGonzo1937
Contributing Reviewer
October 24th 2014


15074 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Green Naugahyde didn't have Herb on that record dude. This is the first album by the original members in nearly two decades.

TheTruthPig
October 24th 2014


12 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

The last release with this line up was 'Animals Should Not Try to Act Like People', from 2003.



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