Review

Review

Puscifer: 'Donkey Punch the Night' – EP Review

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Puscifer

You never know what you're gonna get when Tool's Maynard James Keenan busts out another record from his amazingly weird side project Puscifer... but that chaotic unpredictability is what I love most about them. If ever there were a band that totally defies classification from one album to the next (we're talking abstract musical genius on the level of The Residents here) and still rocks danceable beats and head-banging riffs while simultaneously not giving a shit, Puscifer would totally be that band. From the minimalist electro grooves of their debut album V is for Vagina (and the half dozen remix albums that followed) to the insane mashup of industrial metal and melancholy folk ballads that is their semi-concept record Conditions of My Parole, Puscifer is in constant creative flux, with a revolving repertoire and crew that includes major names from many musical genres.
 
Donkey_Punch
 
Before you even start playing their latest effort, you're hit immediately (pardon the pun) with a complete lack of taste, as the EP is named after an alleged sexual position so nasty it became a fatal plot point in a pitch-black thriller. How do you top that? By laying down a completely irony-free, pitch-perfect rendition of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody,” that's how. I kept waiting for the punchline to this lovely cover, which features a full-on Freddy Mercury Night at the Opera-style lead vocal, with all the requisite multi-tracked choir and dead-on instrumental backing in place. The joke finally arrived a bit later, when I watched the song's music video in stunned silence... and I still don't have words to describe the insanity that oozes from every pixel of this clip, which co-stars drag queen/performance artist Dina Martina as Maynard's girlfriend. Oh, Just watch it.
 
 
There's also a remix (or as it's titled, a “rework”) of this cover by Sonoio, which adds a whole new meta-level to things. But that's not the only rock classic to get Pusciferized here: we also get a southern gothic re-imagining of Accept's “Balls to the Wall,” which comes close to recreating some of the mellower moments from Keenan's other notable side project, A Perfect Circle. This song appears in two different versions: the straightforward “Pillow Fight” version, and the eerie, retro-futuristic instrumental “El Guapo mix” by DJ Silent Servant, which sounds like an early cut from Tangerine Dream (that's a very good thing in my book, by the way).
 
With the original album cuts "Breathe” and “Dear Brother,” we're back on slightly more familiar territory: “Breathe” is a pulsing, sexed-up number combining a sensual bass and guitar line with throbbing electro beats beneath blended male and female lead vocals. It's tense and exciting, but fairly subtle as Puscifer tracks go. The lush and mesmerizing “Dear Brother” is structured on a drum & bass groove, with warm, sliding fuzz guitars (some played in reverse) draped leisurely on top, and the same effective multi-tracking of multiple vocalists. There are more so-called “reworks” of these two on the EP: the buzzing, glitchy industrial noise version of the former (courtesy of Drumcell) and the echo-plexing “Denton Rework” of the latter, with Maynard's vocals front-and-center against a simple, crawling synth bass line.
 
Puscifer_recording
 
Well, what can I say, other than Maynard and company have knocked another one out of the park. Maintaining their signature quirks and dark humor amid truly stunning production and their best arrangements to date, this EP ranks among the band's finest work, and I hope it's just a preview of a full-length project that's soon to come. Considering how much they bend and twist their existing catalog like a Rottweiler on a squeaky toy, who knows what the holy hell they've got in store for us next, or when... but I want it.
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