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Published: 2009/07/15
by Reanna Feinberg

Les Claypool- Britt Festival, Jacksonville, OR – 6/21

Playing the Britt Festival fresh out of the heated passion of the Summer Solstice, Les Claypool flushes the quaint historic town of Jacksonville, Oregon with an enema of psychotic bass. The streets flood with psyllium husks reverberating in the shocked convulsions of deep hollowed rhythms played by a man wearing a rubber pig mask. His fingers flutter over the bass and dive in as if playing an elephant: rubbing along the thick skin of the beast then plunging into the heart of the thing. Bursting a flower open from the drop-line of dew within the stem, his bass sends petals, bark and outer sheaths of all things composed of water to the edges of town like foam ringing the beach at low tideeverything bursting forth from the inside, out.

The music is hard. Its not sweet or categorical but is undeniably good. Claypool tears into the bass. Making it sing, making it scream. As if stubbing the toe of each note, hard against a wall, the sound yelps out with no restraint, unhindered and full from depths of rich, tormented bliss. His whole hand engulfs the strings. Seizing independent musical tangents cupped within the larger fist of chords pulled from the bottom rungs, he thwomps the circled center back and forth playing both ends and throwing his fingers as if calling, Paper, in a match of rouchambeau. Interesting clumps of words escape from his mouth with a peculiar, intentional, vocal gait. He shakes out the syllables like a wet dog, marrying patient pause and flooding run-on verbose in a mousetrap Caribbean chaise lounge. It is the shadow version of Sesame Street where puppeteered caricatures run rampant in the night streets, cameras off, exploring the depths of fear and intrigue through music. It is powerful. It is full throttle bass drive, plunged into the drumhead of the world and shot out over the green hillside, speckled in the uncured, soft leather coats of dancing bodies flooded in bloodstream earthquakes, by the bass.

Pig mask affixed over his face, Claypool plays the whamola with a bow. Slapping this single pole-like bass (a seemingly simple stick and string) to life, he plays the ice cream center of a Creamsicle that then churns the sweet flesh orange. He picks the instrument up off the floor and tucks it under his arm, like a child pretending to rock out on a broomstick, but this stick rolls whomp waves of fleeced defibrillated convulsions over the crowd. Sneaking up on the music, it threads open a flower, from both ends, continuously, gently, smooth and fucking urgent! Returning to a standard bass guitar, Les pulls yo-yo trick flicks up the instruments arm out of fluctuating rippled pools of kneaded tar pillow orgasms in a show down face-off with his guest, the worlds only guitar playing Redwood tree, Eenor.

Claypool comes and goes from the stage. Nonchalantly walking off with no mention of returning or acknowledgment of his comings and goings. This is no place for social graces; correct etiquettes skirt is quickly lifted and is goosed off stage. He is not here to provide commentary of the musical happenings or allocate the appropriate release of praise. He is only here to pulse music from the amber-hardened center where its thought not to exist and so remains pure, with an unkempt, raw edge and no interest in fitting into one of the tuxedos worn by the animal-masked musicians on stage. These cohorts of musicians in monkey-like masks taunt and paint drum solos out of stringed instruments, cowbells, vibraphones and drums. Powerful drums. Full throttle sweat puddle stomping with wings, drums.

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