For the uninitiated, head-scratching reader — and if the project name didn’t give it away — The Claypool Lennon Delirium is a relatively new collaboration between Sean Lennon and Les Claypool of Primus. The duo met up over wine at Claypool’s place as a year off approached, and that meet-up led to their 2016 debut, Monolith of Phobos. That album (appropriately enough, named after an actual space rock on the surface of Mars’ moon Phobos) was received well by fans and critics alike, peaking at 84 on the Billboard albums chart. Rolling Stone admired its “creepy prog-funk” and American Songwriter praised its “heavily hallucinogenic style.”
Claypool himself has likened the project to a “freak stew,” admiring collaborator Lennon’s natural inclination to reflect not just his father’s artistic flourishes, but also his mother Yoko Ono’s avant-garde leanings, as well.
Backstory and pedigrees aside, the music itself is an adventurous marvel sure to delight many beyond just the cult of Primus devotees. Sure, you’ve got the overly accomplished bass-lines Claypool is known for and his characteristic, nasally carnival barker vocals (which are both a bit restrained here). But you’ve also got Lennon’s tendency to compose and deliver tracks with an unmistakable flair.
At its most jaw-dropping moments, it’s quite an odyssey. The tunes ebb and flow like notes upon a Möbius strip blotter sheet, with twists and turns just around each bend; varying blankets of Psychedelic Pop clouds float overhead with synths, sitars and simulated string sections in the midst of placid vocal harmonies and blissful ripples below. You’ll hear nods to many of the new and old-guard arms of Psychedelia: Pink Floyd, Hawkwind, King Crimson and even The Melvins. But most notably, and perhaps appropriately, the project prominently touches on a rediscovered thrill of The Beatles at their playful, Psychedelic peak.
The depths that The Claypool Lennon Delirium plunges are a treat for Prog/Psych fanatics, but they don’t sacrifice the project’s appeal to casual Rock fans in the process. The collaboration reaches beautiful, odd places that have been untouched by many in the music community for far too long. It’s a welcome new chapter in the ongoing career of both artists.
The Claypool Lennon Delirium's current tour comes to Covington, Kentucky's Madison Theater Tuesday, April 30. Click here for tickets/more show info.