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"Monolith of Phobos" by The Claypool Lennon Delirium

ATO Records / Prawn Song Records
"Monolith of Phobos" by The Claypool Lennon Delirium
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ALBUM REVIEW: The Claypool Lennon Delirium – Monolith of Phobos (ATO / Prawn Song) 2016

Is it a bit of ol’ synchronicity that my review of Shaun Assael’s new book, The Murder of Sonny Liston, which I literally finished writing 10 minutes ago, notes the fact that the troubled heavyweight boxer appeared in a scene in The Monkees’ psychedelic freak-out film Head and that musicians Sean Lennon and Les Claypool – of the Claypool Lennon Delirium – bonded after a “fortuitous viewing” of Head not too long ago?

Perhaps. Sync is like that.

But looking at this picture of Sean Lennon in this Rolling Stone article, alongside the Primus bass player, he not only looks like his Beatle father, but like his father as he appeared on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – an album cover that features the late Sonny Liston on the cover, amongst many other famous figures. It is weird, man. Do you remember that time I interviewed a Space Shuttle astronaut who had some weird theories about Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band? That’s another story with a space link. Yeah, man, it’s all connected!

In fact, Sean Lennon goes further, saying “Head is, like, my bible. Any project or important thought I’ve ever had was inspired by Head.” I can dig it!

Lennon goes beyond Head and onto the now-infamous conversation Apollo 11 Moon astronaut Buzz Aldrin had on C-SPAN in 2009 openly talking about a “monolith” (cue “Thus Spoke Zarathustra” from 2001: A Space Odyssey) on the surface of “this little potato-shaped object (Phobos) that goes around Mars every seven hours.”

As Aldrin concluded in his mindblowing comments: “When people find out about that they are going to say, ‘Who put that there? Who put that there?’ Well, uh, the universe put it there, or, if you choose, God put it there.” And yes, readers, there is something sticking up out of the surface of Phobos. Who knows what it is?

As I noted in a 2011 article I wrote about the strange demise of Russia’s Phobos-Grunt spacecraft and speculated if it was somehow “sabotaged” the strangeness of Phobos has only expanded in the past few years.

And with The Claypool Lennon Delirium bringing these cosmic mysteries to the table via this 11-track disc Monolith of Phobos, I think more people will be wondering if the universe or God or whatever was leaving a calling card behind for us to find whenever we successfully land and explore the surface (and interior) of that odd tater floating above Mars.

So, Claypool, singing, playing bass and occasionally having a hand at the Mellotron, joins the multi-instrumentalist Lennon (singing, playing guitar, autoharp, percussion, drums and Mellotron, as well) on songs like album opener “The Monolith of Phobos,” which opens with sounds that brings to mind some of the trippier material on the Stones’ Their Satanic Majesties Request.

As Claypool sings: “The Monolith of Phobos, enters into Buzz’s dreams / And questions more than answers rise like cream.” Yes, we do have questions, Buzz. Perhaps this is now in Elon Musk's court?

Lennon takes the lead vocal on the anti-drug cautionary tale “Cricket and the Genie (Movement 1 – the Delirium)” which flows into “Cricket and the Genie (Movement 2 – Oratorio di Cricket)”

“Captain Lariat” sounds like a cross between any number of Syd Barrett compositions with Pink Floyd and The Who’s “Boris the Spider,” as sung by bassist John Entwistle. The voyeuristic "Mr. Wright" is pure Primus. In fact I listened to it thinking it was an outtake from Pork Soda or something. Claypool is clearly having fun on this one.

This much-needed, psychedelic journey wraps up with the ether-tempoed "Bubbles Burst," about Michael Jackson's sad chimp prisoner and the instrumental "There's No Underwear in Space." 

Monolith of Phobos is one of the absolute standout recordings of 2016, a dark year in dire need of some decent music, something to take our minds off the sheer insanity of the day-to-day. Thanks guys!

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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