SOUTH OF REALITY

Fun! Eccentricity! Experimentation! Swooshy noises! Unapologetic eclecticism!

We could be talking about the wonder years of UK psychedelic pop, but we are not. Those descriptors, and more, belong to twenty-first century outfit The Claypool Lennon Delirium whose second album—South of Reality—was released in February 2019.

And let it be known that this record is a four-side blast of psychedelic space rockin’ prismatic progressive pop.

From the mercury tinkles and distorted voices that introduce the first song, “Little Fishes”, Les Claypool’s elastic bassline (with just a whiff of “Norwegian Wood”) leads us into a song that has a classic 60s palette but an updated feel. Throughout the album, the nasal vocals certainly evoke Sean Lennon’s dad, but never creepily. It’s both homage and an extension of a golden era in pop music. What Claypool and Lennon—who wrote the songs and played all the instruments—manage to do is take the juggling balls of sixties psychedelia, paint one day-glo colours, torch one for blazing vapour trails and dip the last in lysergic tea. That they juggle these so adeptly into a joyful solar system of songs is jaw-dropping.

It’s fun to spot the references—a glorious “Sun king” harmony, a Keith Emerson synth solo, a splash of “Taxman” guitar chords—yet it would be a mistake to think of this as pastiche. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts, a multi-coloured kite that flies on the imaginations of these two inventive and massively talented musicians.

Favourite tracks include the title track, the sneering drive of “Easily charmed by fools” (with a fuzz-drenched coda), and “Boriska”, an entertaining update of those 60s name songs (in particular, Bulldog Breed’s “Austin Osmanspare”) that also boasts a great guitar solo in the fade. But perhaps the song that thrilled me most on repeated spins was the perfect melding of psychedelic and progressive tropes in “Amethyst realm”. Sonically detailed, cleverly constructed, and riding a simple but catchy melody/chorus, this extended piece truly captures the progressive spirit of the early seventies.

Can our organs of hearing smile? If so, this contemporary album has certainly brought a broad grin to these jaded ears. You might like to give it a try; I reckon it’ll work for music lovers of any age. And of course there is the bonus of very pretty vinyl too.

 

19 comments

  1. That is a sweet looking vinyl and set. Plus, it sounds interesting as well. I need something new today and this might be it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Worth a virtual spin, that’s for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow, that is one unexpected and intriguing album!

    While I had known that both of John Lennon’s sons became music artists, I only had heard some of Julian’s music from the 80s, especially his debut Valotte. Sean Lennon, one the other hand, had been completely off my radar screen. Well, no longer, I suppose!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s right Christian. Sean’s albums did not really make a huge splash, but this collaboration is hugely enjoyable. Well, I hope others find it so as well!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A wonderful question about the non-mouth parts of our bodies being able to smile. My eyes certainly grinned upon seeing the LP on the turntable! And I imagine my ears would be quite pleased with the results too.
    One of my math students was raving about this collaboration this year – so there’s hope for the future too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hope swirls eternal, Geoff. And smile-making music sure helps!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Genius writing: “What Claypool and Lennon…manage to do is take the juggling balls of sixties psychedelia, paint one day-glo colours, torch one for blazing vapour trails and dip the last in lysergic tea. That they juggle these so adeptly into a joyful solar system of songs is jaw-dropping.” Sampled this on Apple Music; I especially like Blood and Rockets, Boriska, and Amethyst Realm.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are too kind JDB. Delighted (as always) to see your miniature painting appear.
      [If time allows, the three previous posts are album covers around a lunar theme.]

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’m with you Bruce. It was pointed out to me by one of our acquaintances (J, I think) that Claypool had hooked up with Sean Lennon. All my prejudices aside the proof is in the listening. Really good. I would grab the vinyl just for the cover. CB is a big Les fan but still this surprised me.
    Big Earl (son) just caught them live recently and he had nothing but glowing things to say and Earl doesn’t glow easily. Real good choice fella. A few others are spreading the word on this band and their music.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The lovely James was my dealer for this psychedelic pill, for which I’m most grateful.
      Big Earl’s endorsement is the second to appear in these comments – reckon there’s something good happening!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Is he like that guy in that Steppenwolf song or the Curtis Mayfield song? Or his own song?
        Earl and Victim Of The Fury can be trusted.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Coincidence of happy ears here. I saw CLD at at a relatively small venue when they came through Phoenix just under two weeks back. Great sonic experience and I picked up a like vinyl at the show. Besides a good number of songs from both this and their last album, they also took on Court of the Crimson King and Tomorrow Never Knows. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Now that is some synchronicity, Mister. Did they have an added rhythms section, or just the duo?
      And what a choice of covers! I’d spring for a ticket if they came to town, for sure.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Top notch drums and keys along for the ride. We all were aware of Mr. Claypool’s instrumental prowess, but who knew that Sean could play up a storm too. His extended guitar excursions were wonderfully delirious.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Sounds great. Were you already a Primus man?

          Liked by 1 person

        2. Indeed. Dating back to Wynona and her big brown beaver. Had the pleasure in July 2018 of seeing Primus for the first time live; they played the whole of the Desaturating Seven album plus a bit more. Awesome!

          Liked by 1 person

  7. Who can’t love a Beatle reference (or three, or four, or five) now and then??! – Marty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Correctamundo. And who better to deliver them than the son of a Beatle?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. Really glad you enjoyed this one (I had a feeling you would). One of my favourite albums this year, y’know.

    And that vinyl is really nice! Mine is quite bland compared to this!

    Liked by 1 person

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