Conditions of My Parole
October 18, 2011 Puscifer
From the brains of Tool and A Perfect Circle front-man Maynard James Keenan comes the musical collective
Puscifer. Self described by Keenan as a place "where my Id, Ego, and Anima all come together to exchange cookie recipes," Conditions of
My Parole is Puscifer's second full-length album. It follows 2007's V for Vagina and its many subsequently remixed EPs.
For those passing out while waiting for the next Tool album to drop, keep holding your breath. Puscifer (for this album anyway) consist of musicians
from different facets and genres that includes Carina Round, Joshua Eustis (Telefon Tel Aviv), Matt McJunkins (A Perfect Circle), Tim Alexander
(Primus, A Perfect Circle), Jon Theodore (The Mars Volta, One Day as A Lion), and Devo Keenan (Ashes Divide), as well as other contributing artists.
To nail Puscifer down to a singular genre would be impossible. The influence of the various musicians allow for the sound to evolve and change
drastically from track to track. In the release of Conditions of My Parole, Keenan and his cohorts have crafted a soothing flow of melodies
punctuated by moments of growls from Keenan with the familiar pound of down-tuned sludging guitars. Other moments sparkle with electronic nodes,
synths, and drum-machines melding in unison with the honeyed part of Keenan's croon, creating a visual and ear-gasmic vibe reminiscent of the
Northern Arizona landscape where Keenan has combined both his passions of music and wine.
Both "Tiny Monsters" and "Green Valley" open this musical journey with a desolate and foreboding feeling. Acoustic guitars combined with drum
machines envelop Keenan's softer croon. One can almost picture a lone traveler traversing the harsh southwestern landscape.
The middle of the album begins to hit its stride with "Telling Ghost." Closer to A Perfect Circle in its nature, Keenan's now widely copied
hesitating then gushing delivery drive the groove on this track in-between the slower downtime in the verses. A brilliantly laid out song,
I'd be surprised if this wasn't made a single at some point in the future.
Abruptly switching gears and styles, "Horizons" is one of those songs where fan boys will be digging the message boards discussing the lyrics
and their meanings. If you know Maynard's story you can probably conclude it is about his late mother. Out of respect for her and Keenan, and
to allow listeners to make their own interpretations I will not divulge my opinion. This song happens to be my favorite on the album and is
just a sublime and powerful piece of music. Driven by the combination of a pounding bass and haunting acoustic guitar, Keenan's poignant and
sweepingly emotional voice brushes past the listener's ear like a warm desert breeze, imprinting a visceral mark on the brain that leaves the
listener desperately wanting more. Seriously a fantastic song.
"Man Overboard," the first single off the album, is a series of building and crashing sounds that takes a few listens to really appreciate and
allow your ears to find the groove. "Toma," another slightly heavier song, features a distorted bass along with down-tuned crunching guitars.
Keenan's wait-and-go delivery soars to the forefront with penetrating and inviting personal lyrics. I'm also curious to see all the Tool
lyric-meaning diggers fight over what they think "Toma" means.
"The Rapture (Fear is a Mind Killa Mix)" is another quality track that boasts a pounding drum line with a heavy distorted bass line, building
over short punctuated guitar bursts. Keenan harmonizes over his own voice as well as a female singer to create an eerie but powerful chorus
line that references two famous brothers from the Old Testament; one is a murderer and the other dies (you figure it out). If you're not careful,
this song will stick in your brain throughout a whole workday. (No seriously, it will, trust me.)
Many Tool/APC fans may dismiss this album on the surface. Digging a little deeper, though, one will find its true brilliance. It is a creation of
pure art with no compromises from a man who, given his stature and success, has kept it as real as it can get over the years. Puscifer is a
refreshing blend of electronics with moments of heavy rock, smoothed out by its sweeping melodies and Keenan's contagious voice. Tool and its
signature style can be polarizing in its essence, but this slice of goodness from Keenan is more accessible than anything he has ever put out before.
Do yourself a favor and find a quiet area and a glass of wine and allow the music to massage your mind into a stress-less place as you enjoy the
crafting of a subtle and quiet genius who has gathered up talented musicians in his desert abode to sing, drink, and be merry.
Reviewer Bio - Tim Rosini is part of the editorial team at Onlinerock team. Having a background in English literature with a concentration in creative writing, Tim found himself working for various magazines and websites after moving out to the west coast last summer. Having the ability to adapt his focus from business writing to creative fiction he has found a great place to exercise his passion for music on the onlinerock website.