South of Reality: A Reality-Bending Trip Through Psychedelic Soundscapes

George P Thomas

The Claypool Lennon Delirium's sophomore album, "South of Reality," is a potent concoction of progressive rock and psychedelic exploration, served up by the seasoned veterans Sean Lennon and Les Claypool. Released in February 2019, it stands as a testament to their musical prowess and a testament to the power of collaboration.

The album dives headfirst into a world of warped realities, taking the listener on a journey that's both mind-bending and strangely familiar. Claypool's signature bass work, renowned for its unorthodox techniques and slapping grooves, weaves intricate patterns throughout. Lennon's vocals and guitar contributions add a layer of melodic sensibility, grounding the sonic adventurousness with a touch of pop accessibility.

The opening track, "Little Fishes," sets the tone perfectly. A bouncy bass line propels the song forward, while swirling guitars and echoing vocals create a hypnotic atmosphere. The lyrics, though cryptic, hint at a descent into a fantastical realm: "Little fishes swimming by, lost and searching for the sky." This sets the stage for the rest of the album, where the line between reality and the absurd becomes increasingly blurred.

"Blood and Rockets" is a multi-part epic, showcasing the band's ability to craft sprawling narratives within a song. The first movement, "Saga of Jack Parsons," delves into the life of the real-life rocket scientist and occultist, with a driving rhythm and lyrics that paint a picture of ambition and obsession. The second movement, "To the Moon," takes a more whimsical turn, with a spacey soundscape and playful melodies that evoke a sense of weightlessness.

The title track, "South of Reality," is a highlight, a pulsating groove with a catchy chorus that burrows into your brain. Claypool's distorted bass lines take center stage, providing a foundation for Lennon's soaring vocals. The lyrics explore themes of identity and perception, questioning what's real and what's imagined: "South of reality, where the shadows sing a song, a melody of what might have been all along."

"Boriska" is a more subdued track, featuring a melancholic piano melody and introspective lyrics. It serves as a welcome respite from the album's more frenetic moments, showcasing the band's ability to create moments of quiet beauty alongside the sonic chaos.

"Easily Charmed by Fools" injects a dose of humor into the mix. A funky bass line and playful vocals lampoon those who are easily swayed by empty promises. The song's playful energy is a reminder that "South of Reality" isn't just about mind-bending sonic exploration; it also knows how to have fun.

"Amethyst Realm" takes the listener on a journey through a mystical, jewel-toned world. Lush guitars and ethereal vocals create a hypnotic soundscape, while Claypool's bass lines add a touch of earthiness.

The latter half of the album features two revisited tracks: "Toadyman's Hour" and "Cricket Chronicles Revisited." These reworked versions showcase the band's ability to breathe new life into older material. "Toadyman's Hour" is given a more aggressive treatment, while "Cricket Chronicles Revisited" takes on a more expansive and psychedelic feel.

The album concludes with "Like Fleas," a frantic and unsettling piece that leaves a lasting impression. The song's dissonant chords and frantic drumming create a sense of unease, a perfect ending to an album that explores the darker corners of the human psyche.

"South of Reality" is not an album for the faint of heart. It's a challenging listen, demanding the listener's full attention. However, for those willing to take the plunge, it's a rewarding experience. The album's blend of musical virtuosity, psychedelic exploration, and lyrical depth makes it a true gem. Claypool and Lennon push each other to new creative heights, resulting in a unique and exhilarating sonic journey.

In Conclusion:

"South of Reality" is a triumph for The Claypool Lennon Delirium. It's an album that defies easy categorization, a swirling vortex of progressive rock, psychedelic exploration, and off-kilter humor. It's a testament to the power of collaboration, showcasing the best of what Sean Lennon and Les Claypool have to offer. If you're looking for an album that will challenge your perceptions and take you on a mind-bending journey, then "South of Reality" is a must-listen.