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May 09, 1993|LORRAINE ALI


"Pork Soda"


* 1/2

On the fourth album by San Francisco's premier goofball band, Primus' sci-fi brand of psychotic, funk-o jazz-rock seems to skid even further off the rails of normality. Although that renders the band's sound more alluring to the underground rock nerds born too late for Frank Zappa, the twisted playtime doesn't last.

"Pork Soda" is full of awkward, lurching rhythms and lopsided vocals that have the listener constantly wondering when the real fun is going to begin. In one track, singer-bassist Les Claypool blurts "my name is mud" repeatedly--like some annoying kid on a sugar comedown. His attempt at an abstract and cutting-edge delivery comes off merely quirky and contrived.

Claypool's "clever" lyrics are as obvious as bad sitcom punch lines, and he often compounds matters with silly vocal inflections. The disjointed music--the minimalist bass line and tribal drums of the opening track or an eight-minute-plus instrumental jam of herky-jerky rhythms and noodling guitar on another--moves in choppy spurts that avoid melody like the plague.

Like other contemporary bands of this ilk--Faith No More, for example--no matter how "alternative" you dress up Primus, they still play boring old prog-rock.

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