24 November 2015
Puscifer - Money $hot
I approach this album with a sense of dread if I am honest, as a fan of the vocal ability of Maynard James Keenan (singer of Tool/A Perfect Circle/Green Jelly (honestly, he was on the hit single "Three Little Pigs")) I have always struggled with Puscifer. It has always been a project which I have not connected with, it always felt a little too out in the wild for me. It is not because I am a blinkered Tool fan and demand a new album, I would rather there was no Tool album than have something that would piss on that legacy. Also, A Perfect Circle's last album (the collection of protest songs called 'eMotive') was a brilliant piece (no matter what Jerm says), so that project might have took its natural course as well. So in order to listen to this man's brilliant vocals is currently with this band, which gives me an opportunity to review my feelings about this band. Now I will be quite prepared to eat humble pie if this is brilliant, it is what happens around here all the time - so let us see how this album pans out.
Starting the album is "Galileo" which begins with a trip-hop percussion that has a lonesome guitar being strummed over the number, when Mr Keenan starts to sing you are reminded how good a vocalist this man is; it make you appreciate the man and his abilities - if your a big Tool fan it will probably make you yearn for a new album even more. What this song also does, it makes all memories of "V is for Vagina" disappear (I will have to revisit that album, I was in a dark place when I first listened to it). Anyway, as the song moves along you have a haunting song which pulses with all the off the wall vibration of an Aphex Twin song that has been given an alternative rock make-over. "Agostina" is the second song and starts with a reserved strumming of a guitar and a loud bass that pierces the air as Maynard lays his stunning musings over this song. Obviously you are reminded of a lot of his other projects due to his voice, but the music is as stunning as those vocals. This feels like a totally different project to when I first encountered them and it also sounds as if a lot of effort and time has went into this song. It takes a few listens to get into "Agostina", it is not your most conventional number in a way; however it is so worth it once the penny drops and when the chorus drops, then you are hooked into this strange and beautiful world. "Grand Canyon" shows that Maynard is not about to stop doing epic songs any time soon, it is a staggering song for me as it starts off with a haunted guitar and bass drifting in and out of each other. As the song build around the duelling male & female vocals, you have minimalist synth noises, subtle drumming and the sense of strength radiating off the song; it is the song where the album started to make sense the first time I listened to it, it took a little longer for other tracks to make sense but this one clicked straight away.
"Simultaneous" is the fourth song off the album which starts with a spoken word piece that talks about a man meeting up with a strange man in a strange crowd, it sounds a little strange and as if it is being discussed through a layer of fog. The spoken word section goes one whilst the tune is forming in the background, giving the song a feeling akin to "Little Fluffy Clouds" by The Orb. After the story is completed (not going into full details, I don't want to spoil the surprise), the song takes full form and you have this minimalist post-rock song that is a dark mirror to the opening, strange story. A complicated number that warrants further listening, but not an easy number (as if we expected anything less). The title track "Money $hot" is next and it is a two minute plus punk item, it is one of the most aggressive songs on the album with its powerful drumming, harsh vocals, increased activity with the synths, guitars and pulsing bass-line. It reminds you that Mr Keenan can also sound absolutely terrifying when pissed off and it adds another hypnotic layer to this record. "The Arsonist" follows on and whilst the song might not sound as aggressive, do not think that it is not as pissed off and emotive. This song is about burning your bridges and living with the consequences of those drastic actions. It starts off with light percussion and keyboards, the vocals are heart-breaking and fucked off in equal measure with a degree of scorn mixed in. The regret that comes off this song like waves on a beach is brilliant, the song is a pinnacle on this album that has got better with each song, this song however just towers over everything that has gone on before and afterwards - stunning.
"The Remedy" has the unenviable task of following the song of the album, but it does it admirably. First off it follows the same suit of every other song on this album, it does not follow the same pattern and keeps to its own beat. Secondly, this song about someone who is going to get what is coming to them is a stunner of a tune; full of passion, venom, humour and anger, it is a song that you can instantly understand and get a grips with. Again, you are going to have to have a certain mind-set to appreciate this; but it is a brilliant song that should please any fan of Maynard's work. "Smoke & Mirrors" is the eighth song on this album which is a strange number, but on this album strange is normal. In this minimalist landscape of a record, this song can be best described as sparse; you do not have number in the way of instrumentation, but what you do have is beautifully crafted around an understated performance from Mr Maynard here as he reflects on the actions and deceitful actions of another party. It is a good song which does not detract from the album, nor does it excite as much as other song - but it is still a good number. The penultimate song on the album is called "Life of Brian (Apparently You Haven't Seen), a song that feels like a stark and desolate from the opening and the mood does not improve throughout the four minutes and forty two seconds that it is in the world. It is the song that I have struggled with the most on this album, it is well crafted and all of those things; but it feels a little too detached from the rest of the album for me, a little too removed from reality and fantasy as if it is on its own in a sphere of closed steel. I guess that you cannot like everything, but that is just me and this could become someone else's favourite song off the record. Ending the album is "Autumn" which start off with a quite word, repeated a few times and with a gentle pace it begins to add layers to itself, instruments start to be added bit by bit and the song takes form. It is a subtle ending to this album, it does not go out with a bang or a whimper - but it does finish on a strong statement which seems to be saying that this is not the end of this group. It is another gem in this sea of treasure and bring the curtain down in a subtle and majestic manner.
I am totally humbled by this album, it has changed my opinion on this group completely and I deserve the biggest slice of humble pie that I can find. I am always will to admit I am wrong about something and with this album I am 100% converted to the cause. It is a dark, intriguing and beautiful record that gives more and more with each listen. It is not absolutely perfect, but only one song that does not make sense is a pretty good return for me. The voice is still strong, the music is beautiful and the overall performance has showcased one of the strongest set of songs I have heard this year. Without wanting to mention the day job, will it appease Tool fans? Well I think so, but it is not Tool and that is brilliant; it is Puscifer and that is the way it should be - a totally independent project that showcases this man's musical vision.
9 out of ten - Almost perfect, almost.....
Top track - The Arsonist
You can purchase Money $hot from Amazon here
You can visit the Puscifer website here (where you can also purchase the album as well)
You can follow the activities of Puscifer on Facebook here
You can stream Money $hot on Spotify here
You can stream Money $hot on Deezer here
You can stream Money $hot on Tidal here
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