Quite some time ago, I drank a dozen or so PBRs and loaned Jerry a stack of Butthole Surfers and Pigface CDs.  For years, I tried in vain to get the CDs back and to this day, I still don’t think I have them all.  After listening to ‘The Primitive Collection’ and ‘Noisebox’, I would like to think that those CDs helped form what I heard but, really, I know better. Having known Jerry all these years, I have yet to meet anyone with the same magnitude of creative energy or introverted personality. Luckily, one characteristic seems to have complimented the other…

Now, I was on the fence about posting this review.  Just because I went to high school with Will and Jerry, recorded multiple ‘lost’ tracks and floated countless kegs with ’em, doesn’t mean they get a free review without writing a couple decent tracks. Although most would argue that bestiality, incest and gender identity are all but humorous, ‘The Primitive Collection’ is being pushed as comedy, and, at times, does well to live up this genre label. What I hear beneath the surface is something else entirely…much like how John Gacy paints a smile on his face to hide something…

A mix-mash assortment of tracks is strewn about this 2 CD release for a total of 42 disturbing and mind-altering songs. The country twang of ‘Kept On Drivin”, which re-tells the story of being followed by a homosexual predator, contrasts heavily with the electronic, cut and paste lyric assault of ‘Robot Jelly’, a track that you must hear, if no other. From what I can tell, Jerry handles the majority of the vocals, with Will’s Anselmo-esque howl contributing occasionally when necessary. Containing remixes of Super Mario and Dr. Dre along with the feelings of isolation expressed on tracks like ‘Army of Me Pt. 1’ and ‘Will Someone Please’,  ‘The Primitive Collection’ runs the risks of having its point missed entirely, if there even is one. It is entirely possible, however, that the listener can experience a life changing epiphany, depending on what kind of acid you recently ate.

When we were young, Jerry and I took guitar lessons from the same guy for a few years. I recall once, while waiting on Jerry’s lesson to finish so my own could start, our teacher making a remark that one day, Jerry would be a ‘senior student’ like I was.  Our teacher, who was typically half-drunk on rum and coke, mistook my tenure for ability. Apparently, his idea of ability was a student’s aptitude for playing ‘American Woman’ as opposed to being on fire with creativity. The music contained on ‘The Primitive Collection’ is a testament of an artist’s uninhibited expression, and, I would assume, written with the understanding that the music would never be released.

Although the 2 CDs contain familiar rhythms and melodies from influences such as Nine Inch Nails and Nintendo, ‘The Primitive Collection’ fails to accomplish the one thing that Reznor and Mario do so well: create a memorable hook.  On all 42 tracks of ‘The Primitive Collection’ and the 212 of ‘Noisebox’, I can’t recall a single chorus that repeated, got stuck in my head, changed keys, went to the 4th chord, etc. The lyrics were running wild: verse after endless verse made my head spin, although I was quite impressed by Will and Jerry’s ability to keep me guessing and looking forward to the next track.

A sleek digipack contains the mp3 only disc that is ‘NoiseBox’, Jerry’s collection of material written from 2000-2006. Stripped of allvocals, the material ranges from gritty, guitar-driven industrial passages on the ‘Anamorphosis’ and ‘Coy’ EPs to the otherworldly sounds of ‘Visions 1’, a soundtrack intended for an adaptation of DOOM that is still unreleased.  Where the driving sounds of ‘Anamorphosis’ and ‘Coy’ are well suited for a ‘rock’ band, complete with barre chords, ten ton bass and hammering drums, fat Moog synths, looped effects and dark ambiance create the atmosphere that is ‘Visions 1’, ‘Visions 2’ and the ‘Phenomaly’ EP.

Much more than cut and paste ACID loops and bullshit beat generators that can be slapped together on your iPhone, the sounds here draw you in and take you far from anything you have ever know. A person doesn’t play as many instruments and write as many songs as Jerry without learning how to do it well. The 3 album set, ‘Songs from Orion’, written on the synthesizer of the same name, is Jerry’s sound track to a game of his own design, ‘Castle Kingdom’, a game, in Jerry’s words, that is “a medieval side-scroller featuring a guy with a sword”. Doesn’t sound that exciting unless you hear the music. Immediately, I am taken back to the days of ‘Final Fantasy’ and ‘Dragon Warrior’ for the NES, as ‘Songs from Orion’ captures the spirit of retro-gaming without flaw.

Hours later, after all the dust has settled and the room is again silent, I am impressed by the sheer magnitude of work presented on ‘The Primitive Collection’ and ‘NoiseBox’.  I look forward to another release by this duo, preferably a condensed amalgam of what makes this material like-able and less of what makes it conflict with itself.

http://www.willandjerry.com/

http://jerrylehr.com/