V Is for Vagina, R Is for Review

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Mai 9 2008, 22h31

So, Puscifer finally materialized itself in 2007 with V is for Vagina. Oh, I know I'm over half a year late but I never got around gathering my thoughts about this sexy groove fest of Maynard's. There wasn't much available from Puscifer before its debut. Some intriguing songs could be found on Underworld and Saw soundtracks (REV 22:20 and The Undertaker (Renholder mix) to be exact) leaving the fans yearning for more. Well, patience is awarded I guess. Not necessarily in the way that was expected though...

To be honest, I never kept track on Maynard's projects. When I first discovered A Perfect Circle (which pretty much set a basis to my whole taste in music as it is right now) there was a long period of time before I ever learned about Tool. I came accross Puscifer by an accident, really, when I stumbled on Maynard's MySpace. There was a link to Puscifer's website before V Is for Vagina or Cuntry Boner. I thought "ok?" and watched as PussyLucifer dragged the crawling king behind her on a chess board when the site started streaming the murky industrial sounds of REV 22:20. This was exciting!... But unfortunately there wasn't nothing much released back then so I forgot about the whole project... I was just informed later about a full-lenght Puscifer release, which, to me, meant a new Tool album (hopefully with confessional and intimate lyrics. It was a solo album afterall!) Well, I was wrong.

What the hell are you supposed to expect from an album named after the ever-so-censored female genital? It wasn't about the title though. It was that the last thing MJK released was an intimate and confessional progressive metal album. This just wasn't expected.. at all.. The title felt embarassing but why not give a shot? It was Maynard afterall. He could do anything.

I wasn't impressed at all for the first time I played the album. It seemed fully packed with monotonic, lame and embarassing songs with Maynard's robotic baritone vocals slapped over them. It was still strangely captivating though. I had never heard anything quite like it before, and I still haven't. Call it brainwashing or unexpected potential if you will but now that I've repeatedly listened to all of the songs on this album for more times than my scrobble count can ever tell, I'm virtually in love with each one of them.

Queen B
Here we have the greasy opener for Vagina. My friend called this song despicable to listen to, for the annoying sex comp you know? I didn't like it at first either and the perverted lyrics as if from an old man didn't really help it. But there's more to this song than its title. It's a great opener for the whole album. While it's the most mono-layered, it's groovier than the rest with its instrumental break-downs towards the end and the oppositedly high and low pitched backing vocals. Propably not something you would play for your girfriend but it's something for the fanboys to masturbate to.

DoZo
This is one wicked song. Seriously, you can't have sounds of a gun being loaded, twisted lyrics as if from a country song turned on its head and music that sounds like it's being played on reverse and say it didn't leave you even a bit unsettled. Slap some female orgy recordings on it and we have one of the highlights of the album. The song sounds strikingly similar to Strugglin' by Tricky, which leaves me wondering. Tricky DID appear on the Parabola music video afterall. And Vagina being slightly trip-hop oriented, it wouldn't be a surprise if the song was of influence for DoZo.

Vagina Mine
Despite its title, the song strikes me as the darkest tuning of the whole album. You can hear it right from the intro of simple and murky industrial drums. The song turns more colorful towards the end but never loosing its dark shading. The backing vocals (simply consisting of high and low pitched "hee"s and "hoo"s) and Maynard's twisted lyrics and baritone voice are what make this song another one of my favourites from the album. I've been trying to interpret it several times, but never came to a conclusion if it's a solid critical statement towards objectifying sex or just Maynard's middle-age crisis talking. The lyrics are a bit too clever for their own good: "Cock and long dungeons and learned the damn alphabet / I come before you / Get to payin' your dues", "Down this vagina mine.." There's more to it than what you see.. You gotta be careful about taking these songs too seriously though, or Maynard might just be laughing at you somewhere. Anyhow, this is also one of my favourites from the album yet I can't seem to able to figure it out. It's just so mindfucking for me. Or maybe I'm just too tunnel-visioned?

Momma Sed
And the list of songs about Maynard's mother just keeps growing. This one is of a different kind though, compared to the aggressive yet admiring APC hit Judith or the epic ode Wings for Marie (Part 1)/10,000 Days (Wings Part 2) from Tool. Momma Sed is a lighter and musically more experimental approach. What's so stunning about this song are the trippy guitar and the hooky melodies of the choruses. The backing female vocals are an essential add to Maynard's confessional lyrics. This is the emotional highlight of the album and propably the best song of the whole trip. I actually don't feel like it's a part of the actual album at all. It just feels so separate and distant from the rest.. "It's just a broken heart, son / This pain will pass away.."

Drunk With Power
If you ever desire to feel sexually harassed, this song does the job quite decently. Drunk with Power resembles a twisted alternative country song with some more added twists. The lyrics vary from drunken and dumb to sexually loaded to desperate and depressed. You might think it's difficult to like this song but on the other hand it's easy to feel pity for an old fart like Maynard x] I don't know about you but I'm really digging the melancholic keyboards on this one. It's like an alcoholic father listening to his little daughter's music box, which is another sad thing.. The song also has other goodies to be discovered, such as explosions and barking dogs overlapping the down-tempo industrial drums.. I never really thought much about this track though. It felt a little too overlong, a little too monotonic. Never thought about its political meaning if it had one though it crossed my mind. Especially after hearning the remix on "V Is for Viagra" where you can hear pigs' grunting accompanying political speaches.. Make it what you will..

The Undertaker
This version of the song is in the shade of The Undertaker (Renholder mix), which is a sad thing though I like the remix better as well. The album version is more noise, less music, and the vocals are aggressively reserved, not like the remix, in which the singing is more like your typical Maynard. I answered a fun bunch of questions about my top30 tracks and there's a reason why I though this song would be a giant cockroach if it was an animal.. Practically the whole song is constructed by a set of monotonic, obnoxiously loud industrial noise attacks, which just double on the chorus parts. It sounds like a machine gun shot to your ears. However, when you cross the point where the noise stops being interesting, you start paying attention to the actual song and it's actually quite a rewarding experience. While it gets exhausting at times, it's good to blow out steams every once in a while. There's just something very liberating to get to say "I told you so" ;P

Trekka
I had a hard time getting into this track and I still haven't managed to do that. I didn't dig the whispered lyrics or the ever-so-repeatative ho-ho-ho (Hey that's Santa Claus! Ironic....) There's a certain intimidating charge though. The beat is almost apocalyptic and the lyrics slightly creep me out. "I don't know but it's been said / We'll rest forever when we're dead" I fail at interpreting this song (or any of these songs) though so I'll just leave it here.

Indigo Children
According to Nancy Ann Tappe, the majority of youngsters in our society share the same indigo-colored aura these days. We've reached another level of evolution as the young people have the tendency to be more empathetic, more creative and even possess paranormal abilities. Just how cool is that? All of this is paired with an unusual rise of ADHD, ADD and OCD but that's a low price to pay for humanity in reaching towards perfection. Darwinistic racism? Interfering with human dignity? Nah, it's supernatural, it's fascinating, it has nothing to do with that.... "No more need for the old empire when the indigo children come".... Well, it's good to have these new age movements around so Maynard has something to write songs about. Indigo Children is slightly overlong but totally trippy. It's the closest to electro-industrial the album ever gets and Maynard's singing is more robotic than on the rest of the songs. It's a good moment when the layered vocals kick in though. It might seem like a small change but it actually DOES serve its purpose as the climax of the song. There's one very intriguing detail about Indigo Children, the noise that sounds like a tap or a water pipe. Something similar can be heard on the APC song A Stranger. There is more I'd like to write about this track (as the notable melding of the vocals and the music) but it's fecking 12:17AM and my brains aren't functioning properly.

Sour Grapes
This is the essential track of a critical statement against organized religion you can find on every MJK album. Accompanied with black humor, experimental industrial and a backing choir, it's quite a different take. The lyrics, mocking yet intellectual (a rare combination), are spoken over the catchy, repeated choir chant, which turns into actual vocals towards the end ("It's always gonna be sour grapes with you, boy, until you get right with Jesus") The song is 6 minutes long yet it never looses its grip. A strange thing. You wouldn't think of that from a song that just sounds dumb on the first listen.. The lyrics are deffinitely worth diving into. There's something to learn about them. A long way he has come from Opiate..

Rev 22:20 (Dry Martini Mix)
I've kinda neglected this little gem too. Well, there's a good reason for that since the original version of the song easily pushes this one off the table. This song differs considerably from the rest as it is piano-driven, quiet and Maynard is finally back on the familiar area in his singing. REV 22:20 is propably the most popular song by Puscifer. Count that on the sexy vocals or mockingly anti-religious lyrics if you wish. Maynard is flirting with the Devil (And according to him, Jesus would do the same :3) but "She" leaves him cold and empty. We've gone a full circle back to the point of autofellatio. This version sounds like a dry, worn-out version of the original, which isn't exactly a bad thing but after you've heard the original, you might face difficulties liking this as more than a simple closer for the album (But mind you, it's a great song at that)

*

V Is for Vagina is a surprisingly good album. Don't let the title or the textures of the song fool you. There's more to it that one might think. If you were expecting continuation to Tool or APC, well, you can leave those thoughts be since that's not what you're getting from Puscifer. Tool's progressive artsiness isn't present here, neither is the emotional and ambient rock sound of APC. Vagina is a simplistic, groovy album, which is obviously purposely pushing the boundaries of cencorship (as it is said on the "influences" section on Puscifer's MySpace) I'm ripping off another review now but it's like the essence of it all: It's so easy to get lost in the groove of Vagina. The album feels strangely deep. It's (often darkly) humorous and shallow, but nothing stops you from delving deeper.. Except for maybe Maynard himself who is laughing at you when you do that.. D:

4/5

Comentários

  • EmongFM

    Oh, thanks! Encourages me to do more writing =)

    Mai 11 2008, 12h20
  • iHeartTrigun

    great review. :)

    Mai 11 2008, 22h43
  • EmongFM

    zomg, but I'm no musician x] And iHeartTrigun, thanks \o/

    Mai 14 2008, 8h04
  • Pauli_

    A really nice review. I've kinda had the same feeling about Puscifer as you, before you really checked out the album. I mean when I first heard the name of Maynard's new solo project, I thought it was just dumb. After the title of the upcoming album was announced I felt so disappointed. I've always had very high respect for Maynard, but this kinda seemed to, hmm, lower it a bit. So I just kinda let the album be, didn't bother to check it out. The reason I read your review was because I just heard the song Momma Sed a couple of days ago, and damn, I was impressed! It was almost the complete opposite to all the other work Maynard has done, but it still sounded good. My mom has always been a fan of Leonard Cohen, so throughout my childhood I've heard a lot of his music and come to like it, and I thought Maynard's voice sounded a lot like Leonard Cohen's. Also a bit like the theme song from the TV show The Sopranos, by Alabama 3. I still haven't heard the whole Vagina album, but I think I'm gonna buy it tomorrow. But it better be good, I don't want to be disappointed by Maynard, whom I really respect. But yeah great review, you should write more of these! :)

    Mai 14 2008, 16h35
  • EmongFM

    V Is for Vagina is really the kind of an album that slowly creeps on you and suddenly you realize you're completely hooked. Well that happened to me at least x] So don't panic if you don't like it on your first or second listen.. Momma Sed really stands out from the rest :O And yeah, it's very different from everything else Maynard has done. The whole album is. But it's actually refreshing to hear him leaning towards industrial and trip-hopish music. I wonder if any of those elements are included in the next Tool album (whenever that might be) Thanks for the comment, and yeh, I'll try writing more of these.. Hopefully..

    Mai 15 2008, 7h51
  • EmongFM

    Oh wow, I didn't know that O: Kewlness~

    Mai 26 2008, 17h48
  • Hemea

    Great Review :) it was a pleasure reading it. well done.

    Jun 19 2008, 21h47
  • shamikebab

    I may be very late with this and Im already a big Puscifer fan but this is a really excellent review, very well written!

    Fev 10 2009, 18h26
  • vasiab

    I liked your review and I quite agree with it! [ But imo Momma Sed doesn't feel so separate.]

    Mai 13 2009, 9h49
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