Posts Tagged ‘Primitive Race’

3 November 2017

Christopher Nosnibor – Christopher Nosnibor

Primitive Race emerged through a collaborative release with Raymond Watts’ cult techno / industrial vehicle PIG in 2015, which was swiftly followed by an eponymous debut album. Conceived by Lords Of Acid manager / executive producer Chris Kniker, the band’s first iteration featured Graham Crabb (Pop Will Eat Itself), Erie Loch (LUXT, Blownload, Exageist), and Mark Thwaite (Peter Murphy, Tricky, Gary Numan), with a vast roll-call of guest contributors including Tommy Victor (Prong, Ministry, Danzig), Dave “Rave” Ogilvie (Skinny Puppy, Jackalope), Kourtney Klein (Combichrist, Nitzer Ebb), Mark “3KSK” Brooks (Warlock Pinchers, Foreskin 500, Night Club), Josh Bradford (RevCo, Stayte, Simple Shelter), and Andi Sex Gang. As such, they set out their stall as not so much a supergroup, but an industrial uber-collective, and Primitive Race captured that essence perfectly.

Soul Pretender marks a dramatic shift in every way. This is not an ‘industrial’ album. If anything, it’s a grunge album. That’s no criticism: it’s simply a statement of fact.

And while Primitive Race was by no means light on hooks or choruses, Soul Pretender is overtly commercial in comparison. Again, it’s no criticism, but simply a statement of fact.

It’s a common mistake made by critics to posit a negative critique based on what an album isn’t, without really taking into account the aims and objectives which made the album the album it is. So: ‘technoindustrial supergroup make an album that isn’t technoindustrial therefore it’s shit’ is wrong from the very outset.

Kniker makes no bones about the shift: Primitive Race was always intended to be a collaborative vehicle, and with former Faith No More singer Chuck Mosley on lead vocals and Melvins drummer Dale Crover on board, it was inevitable that Soul Pretender would have a different feel.

There’s a warped, Melvins / Mr Bungle vibe about the verse of the opener, ‘Row House, which is centred around a classic cyclical grunge riff that shift between chorus and overdrive on the guitar, and the 90s vice carries into the melodic ‘Cry Out,’ which is centred around three descending chords in the verse, erupting into a chorus that’s pure Nevermind Nirvana. And that’s no bad thing: it’s a great pop-influenced alt-rock tune with a belting chous.

The excessive guitar posturing on ‘Take It All’ is less impressive as a listening experience than on a technical level, but it’s soon blown away by the sneering ‘Bed Six’, with its chubby riffage and overall thrust.

The title track is perhaps the perfect summary of the album as a whole: uplifting four-chord chugs and a monster chorus are uplifting and exhilarating, and ‘Nothing to Behold’ works the classic grunge dynamic with a sinewy guitar and melodic hook. In fact, ‘classic’ is a key descriptor while assessing the compositional style of Soul Pretender: there isn’t a dud track on it, and the songrwiting is tight. There may not be any immediate standouts, but the consistency is impressive, and in that department, it’s a step up from its predecessor, which packed some crackers, but a handful of more middling tunes. Again, the change in methodology – a static lineup rather than infinite collaborators – is likely a factor here.

The album’s lack track, ‘Dancing on the Sun’, is a slow-burn beast, with hints of ‘Black Hole Sun’ trodden beneath the heft and swagger of Queens of the Stone Age. It’s precisely the track in which an album should end, nodding to the epic and marking an optimal change of pace. And it’s in reflecting on the overall structure and shape of Soul Pretender that it’s possible to reflect on what a great album it is, with its back-to-back riffery and explosive choruses. And did I mention force…


Primitive_Race_-_Soul_Pretender cover


Metropolis Records – 9th September 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Halleluja! Praise the Lard! The god of gammon himself, Raymond Watts, returns with another PIG album after what feels like far too long away. In fact, the last PIG album was Pigmata, a remastered and expanded version of the Watts album Pigmartyr (2004) in 2005. That’s over a decade ago. Apart from a couple of EPs, including the Long in the Tooth one-off with Primitive Race, Watts has been suspiciously quiet. But The Gospel shows that no, he’s not run out of ideas, he’s just a bit of a perfectionist. Armed with a plethora of porcine puns – as is standard – and an abundance of grating industrial guitars, he’s on fine form, and if anything, the time away has refreshed his creative impetus.

Accompanied this time around by ‘partners in swine’, En Esch, Z. Marr, Guenter Schulz & Mark Thwaite (Primitive Race), Watts has assembled a collective with a crack(l)ing pedigree, and the resultant album delivers all the hallmarks of classic PIG in the form of gnarly industrial grooves with panache with a whiff of postmodern parody.

Single cut ‘The Diamond Sinners’ gets the album off to a fairly sedate start, but its mid-tempo simmer still packs plenty of grunt ‘n’ grind, before ‘Found in Filth’ slams down a gloriously trashy and quintessentially PIG industrial thrashabout, only it’s altogether poppier than the majority of previous material, with ‘woo-ooh!’ backing vocals seemingly lifted from The Dandy Warhols’ ‘Bohemian Like You’. Such unexpected twists and apparent incongruities are precisely what makes PIG such an exciting proposition, and why Watts remains one of the most interesting figures to have emerged from the whole late 80s technoindustrial scene as represented by Wax Trax! and the KMFDM collective (of whom Watts was a one-time member, as well as being part of the Foetus live lineup on the extensive tour of Thaw, which yielded the official live album Male and the unofficial but in some respects superior Rife album).

‘Toleration of Truth’ slows it down and goes for epic territory, although you’d be hard-pressed to call it an anthem, despite its climactic guitar solo or lighter-waving tone but ‘Missing the Mainline’ has real lighter-waving potential and offers up one of Watts’ most emotionally heavy – and overtly commercial – vocal deliveries to date. That isn’t to say that with The Gospel PIG have sold out: they’ve always been an act given to exploration and their extensive back-catalogue isn’t short on killer hooks or emotional resonance, as tracks like ‘Save Me’ from Wrecked evidence. 

‘Drugzilla’, previously featured on the Compound Eye Sessions EP, emerged as a collaboration between Watts and Marc Heal (Ashtrayhead, Cubanate) as MC Lord of the Flies but as this – the first official PIG release in a decade – was only given a physical run of 500 it’s fair to say it’s inclusion here is welcome., not least of all because it’s a stonking track. ‘Found in Filth’, which appeared on the aforementioned ‘Diamond Sinners’ release as remixed by Marc Heal also appears in its ‘original’ form. The gritty Americana ‘The Fly On The Pin’ is uncharacteristically delicate, but with its flamenco guitars contrasting with the snarling bassline, it’s another example of Watts expanding his sonic palette to good effect. ‘I’m So Wrong’ has hefty hints of Bowie as Watts bursts into a soaring chorus, providing the most pop moment of PIG’s career to date. But this is no sell-out: it’s merely a progression, and even early tracks like ‘Shit For Brains’ were ultimately hooky and accessible.

If The Gospel lacks the immediacy or soaring orchestration of Sinsation or Wrecked, and fails to replicate the innovation or eclecticism of Red Raw & Sore or The Swining, it’s still by no means lacklustre. It’s a more considered work than some of the later albums, and lyrically, Watts is on fine form. While still pulling together and corrupting clichés and popular phrases in a postmodern parody of lyricism, and demonstrating that he learned a fair amount from JG Thirlwell, he’s expanding his spheres of reference and demonstrates some neat flourishes here.

Everything that’s classic PIG is in place here: churning guitars, insistent bats, grating synths and snarling vocals delivered with a blend of heavy postmodern irony and emotional sincerity. Put simply, The Gospel has all of the defining aspects of PIG and no shortage of killer tunes. Let pundemoneum reign.