By Cody Reeves
The songs are not originals, but chances are you’ve never heard anything like this before.
Les Claypool’s Duo De Twang, the latest project from the Primus frontman and his longtime collaborator, M.I.R.V. guitarist Bryan Kehoe, has released its debut album, Four Foot Shack, and it may pose a serious threat to the way your brain processes the world around you.
The 15-song album is made of previously released material that has been stripped down and reimagined into some sort of backwoods, hillbilly stomp-rock.
A lot of the material comes from Claypool’s own catalogue, but we also get the Bee Gees (easily the standout track), Alice in Chains and Jerry Reed mixed in with old-fashioned folksy Americana. Oh, and there’s even a surf rock instrumental.
Musically, the source material could not be further apart, yet they all get put through the Duo’s same twangy filter and come out the other side as happily uninhibited freaks warped into things they never were meant to be.
Using only Claypool’s nasally voice, one bass, one guitar and a tambourine, along with the occasional banjo, the duo creates music that is more complex than most bands could make with six people. Claypool is one of the most gifted bassists alive today, and on most of his albums, the bass is featured front and center.
On Four Foot Shack, he provides a steady rhythm for Kehoe’s guitar to launch from, but that doesn’t mean the rhythm takes a back seat. With only two people in the band, there is no place for timidity. Claypool and Kehoe show no fear as they guide us through this alternate reality of musical back roads at top speed and with no safety net.
Claypool has flirted with this sort of thing before. A handful of songs in this vein can be found scattered throughout his 30-year career.
Here we have a whole gang of these mutants, and the cumulative effect is something like being trapped inside a demented cartoon.
Except trapped isn’t the right word. It’s so much fun, you’ll never want to live in the normal world again.
The best thing about Four Foot Shack is that it’s fun. Nothing here sounds forced.
It takes a real master to twist songs this far out of shape and make it work.
Claypool and Kehoe sound like they are having a blast singing the songs they want to sing and playing them however they want to play them. There’s no introspection, no emotions, no message.
Just a glimpse of an alternate world with the bizarreness dialed way up.