Bassist extraordinaire Les Claypool met Sean Lennon (the under-appreciated multi-instrumental son of John and Yoko) while Primus was touring with Lennon’s The Ghost of a Saber Tooth Tiger, and after some spontaneous backstage jams and a live sit-in, Claypool approached Lennon about working on a project: an old-school psychedelic space rock record.
It may seem like an unlikely pairing, unless you’re familiar with the legacy of both. Claypool is ever an outside-the-box collaborator (check out Oysterhead, his one-off with Trey Anastasio and Stewart Copeland, or his work with Gaby LaLa or Hank III), and Lennon, well, The Beatles is quite literally in his blood, he’s been making music professionally since age 16, and his resume is vast, touching on solo work, collabs, film scores and production.
Their project, The Claypool Lennon Delirium, is fully showcased in just-released full-length Monolith of Phobos, an opus of 11 songs recorded on a vintage 16-channel console with only the two of them sharing singing and playing duties. Lennon’s vocals carry much of his dad’s sweetly sun-lit quality, which pairs well with Claypool’s deeper nasal intones, while the music is lush and grandiose – psychedelia with quirky lowend muscle, trippy lyrics and a unique compositional approach that blends ominous-hued arrangements with notes of sparkling texture and effects, like in “Cricket and the Genie,” a finely-wrought opus in two movements that twinkle, writhe, slink and groove to a swirl of multi-tracked lalalas and a repeated choral chant of “You ought to try it, you really ought to try it.”
In addition to the two namesake artists, the live incarnation of Claypool Lennon Delirium features Beastie Boys’ Mark “Money Mark” Ramos Nishita (keyboards) and Paul Baldi of the Fungi Band (drums).
The Claypool Lennon Delirium performs on Sun., June 5, at The Ritz Ybor, Ybor City. Tickets are $29.50 general/$50 VIP, and the show starts at 8 p.m. JJUUJJUU opens.
“Cricket and the Genie" (parts I & II) included together below.