The difference between a novelty record and an authentic musical experiment is the depth to which the concept is explored. For the former, consider Hayseed Dixie’s gimmicky gaggle of bluegrass AC/DC covers, which reaches full maturity at approximately the halfway point of the first track. Refreshingly, Duo de Twang, Les Claypool’s latest side-project, is anything but a gag.
Les Claypool's Duo De Twang: Four Foot Shack
Primus frontman gets back to his roots
On Four Foot Shack, said Duo deliver an unplugged collection of mainly covers rendered in the moonshine-and-overalls motif of O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Inspired by Claypool’s recent absorption with early 20th-century roots music, the 15 tracks include funked-up hillbilly versions of Alice In Chains, the Bee Gees and Primus. Cheeky? Sure, but the ferocious musicianship of Les on bass and Bryan Kehoe on guitar plays out in swathes of dizzying melodic latticework.
On Boonville Stomp and Jerry Was A Race Car Driver, their freewheeling rhythmic interplay erupts into jaw-dropping displays of fretboard mayhem, while Stayin’ Alive sees the duo deconstruct the disco classic into a pulsating woodshed blow-out. It’s hard not to chortle during the verses of Man In The Box, but if you can’t have a laugh every now and then, you’ve got no business listening to Les Claypool.