Sound: Les Claypool is a fascinating figure to watch, whether you're viewing his phenomenal bass-playing skills or the multiple costumes/masks he dons during a performance. His latest solo DVD Fancy is still a pretty interesting piece of film, but the audience best suited for the release will definitely be his most diehard fans. He delves deeper into his experimental side than he ever did with his band Primus, and the resulting live performance DVD may be a little too much for even those who enjoyed hits like John The Fisherman and Mr. Krinkle.
Filmed by a group of fans over the course of several concert performances, Fancy features much of Claypool's album Of Whales And Woe and his longtime collaborators e along for the ride. With a solid batch of talent backing Claypool up (Gabby La La on sitar, Skerik on saxophone, Mike Dillon on vibraphone, and Cake's Paulo Baldi on drums), each song turns into a different beast thanks to extended solos. It's truly the funk-rock version of a jazz jam session, with each instrumentalist getting ample time to show off their stuff. This will either thrill you or try your patience, and it might take the Claypool devotees to truly appreciate every minute.
Holy Mackerel is the must-see performance in the DVD, with Gabby La La taking over theremin duties along with her usual sitar playing. La La is an intriguing figure with her blue pigtails and Yoko Ono-like glasses, but watching her effortlessly play untraditional rock instruments truly draws you in. Then you've got Skerik, who plays the sax in a style that is somewhat the sound you might hear if you entered into that Star Wars bar. The entire ensemble is a solid addition and brings something very different to the mix.
The other standout song is Lust Stings, which Claypool rightfully deems the scrotum of the Of Whales And Woe album. It has a sexy, driving bass line that somehow does seem a bit sleazy -- in a very good way. If there's one thing that Claypool does better than most bassists, it's setting the entire mood of a song with a single bass line. // 8
Overall Impression: Because there are so many jam sessions within the course of the concert, you may find yourself fast-forwarding here and there. Undoubtedly being there to see the actual live shows is probably an unforgettable experience, but when you're at home it's probably best viewed over the course of a few days.
If you enjoy Primus, you'll probably be open-minded enough to appreciate Claypool's latest DVD. The songs aren't quite as traditional in their structure as Primus (not to say that Primus was your average radio band by any means), so it may be a little harder to get into every song played. The musicianship is undeniable, however, and hearing the sitar, theremin, and vibraphone all in one rock song is not something you'll get every day. // 8