Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Beehoover – Primitive Powers
Ever wonder what it’d be like if you took Primus and put them in a blender with Tool? Yeah, neither have I, but having thought of it, I have to admit the possibilities are compelling. What would inspire thoughts of such an odd yet interesting combination you might ask? In a simple answer: Beehoover, that’s what.
Upon first listen, my immediate thought was something along the lines of “wow, this is really different, kinda quirky and Primus-y, but a little darker and more sinister somehow.” Indeed, the atonal, almost spoken vocal style and presence of the bass guitar as more than just background but actually in the forefront providing melody naturally evokes comparisons to the mighty Les Claypool, but without his technical virtuosity and the tongue-in-cheek humor Primus is so associated with. Beehoover’s sound is decidedly heavier, grittier, and more brooding; punishing one moment, quieter and more melodic the next, with a proggy undertone conjuring a feel more akin to Tool. Much of Primitive Powers has the bass mimicking guitar, with open odd-meter drumming featuring heavy cymbal work in the vein of Steward Copeland or Tim “Herb” Alexander, there’s not much danger of a standard 4/4 shuffle beat happening here.
Opener “Pissant Wings” and follow-up “Bombs & Bagpipes” showcase dynamic changes in volume and tempo, airy and sparse one moment, then bruising and heavy the next over spoken, almost chanted lyrics, then harmonized choruses, with the odd verse or line sounding as if it’s spoken from a megaphone. “Millwheels of Being” begins with a mesmerizing bass melody that morphs into driving verses and choruses, then abruptly stops, going into a quiet mellow arpeggiated melody with emotive, almost soulful vocals, building up to a half-time feeling heavy section to close out the song. (Full disclosure, I’d never realized both sections were part of the same song, I’d always thought the two halves were individual songs until I sat down to listen to it and write this review and noticed the song title hadn’t changed.) “Tickling The Dragon” is a short bit of psychedelic droning thick with bass guitar feedback and vibrato, with no drums, serving as a sonic bridge to the next song. “Embers” begins with the sounds of an ocean’s waves and the squawking of gulls over a surprisingly beautiful piano melody before the drums and bass kick up a full head of steam. “Anti Zooo” is another mid-tempo number that begins with a bass melody, that quickens to a chugging fury. “Light My Pyre” is a more melodic number with sparse drumming and mellower vocals that builds to a simmer then breaks into an up-tempo angry stomp. Album closer “My Artillery” is an 8 minute brooding dirge that boils beneath the surface, boils over into a soup of heaviness, then simmers down again into a slow bubbling cauldron. From start to finish, Primitive Powers is anything but predictable, this album keeps me guessing, which I think is what makes it that much more fun to listen to.