I had a primitive race once; kid at infant school tripped me over and broke my egg so I battered him round the head with my wooden spoon. The judge said as I was in my 20’s this was particularly unsporting behaviour. Anyway let’s not be silly about things as what we have here is a rather special project which could well be looked at as one of those super-group thingumybobs taking in an all-star cast from the industrial, EBM world and beyond. Apparently it was all conceived by bassist, impresario and Lords Of Acid manager/executive producer Chris Kniker and it involves both a regular cast of contributors as well as loads of guest appearances. Some, as they were to me, will no doubt be fairly well known by listeners and others will not. After playing this a fair few times I have only just realised that I have the information as to who did what on a document sent with the digital download of the album, which makes my task a bit easier, although some of the guest spots were completely obvious to me whilst others were completely off my radar.
For example Eric Loch from LUXT, Blownload, Exageist who is on opener ‘So Strange’ is a totally unknown quantity for me but his voice fits in nicely with the compulsive electronic beats of the song and the electro-synth number is an addictive one, pumped up with the help of Dave ‘the rave’ Ogilvie from Skinny Puppy. It’s not all the same style here though and one guest I had no problem identifying is ‘Follow The Leader’ contributor Graham Crabb of Pop Will Eat Itself having loved the band for years in the past. It’s a slow one with him kind of speaking out his parts and then singing over the beats and it takes me back to some of their early tracks like ‘Evelyn’ rather than their more pumped up hits. He’s a pretty prolific part of the group and crops up again later. Another instant one for me was ‘Acceptance Of Reality’ both musically and vocally it could only be Tommy Victor and the jagged guitar work takes this one away from the other more electronic sounding numbers. Hell, this one could easily have been a Prong number itself. Another heavily present factor on many of these numbers is Mark Gemini Thwaite (Peter Murphy, Tricky, Gary Numan) and you will probably notice the odd nuance that reminds of his work with these artists from time to time.
Josh Bradford of RevCo gets in vocally on ‘Addict Now’ and this sounds more like PWEI than anything else to me, which is odd as Crabbe plays no part. It’s another good tune though and one that gets right under the skin rather hypnotically. Crabb’s back on ‘Cage Rattler’ which has some nice sleazy bass lines and a bit of a Rockabilly beat about it. What with the title and the Cramps like feel of the chorus you could certainly imagine barely clothed ladies boogieing on down to it in a cage. The next one ‘Give Up The Ghost’ was more than welcome and a surprise on first listen as it features the unmistakable honeymoon croon of the ever flamboyant Andi Sex Gang on it. Naturally this brings a bit of a dark cabaret vibe to things and it’s a track that completely sticks out from everything else on offer. Victor’s back with ‘Taking Things Back’ and although the other track had Prong written all over it nothing could be further here, due to dub heavy beats and electronic rhythmic thrusts from Loch.
Things do tail of a bit towards the end though. I really don’t like Crabb’s and Kourtney Klein’s (Combichrist, Nitzer Ebb) track DJFH. It’s no doubt meant to sound a bit crappy though as Crabbe’s ironically voicing the part of a commercial (and probably coked up) DJ who thinks he’s a god. Vocals are horrible though and all off key. I also thought that although there’s nothing particularly wrong with closer ‘Below Zero’ (Bradford again) it’s too slow and downbeat to finish the album off with and things could have done with a final injection of adrenaline.
Primitive Race has proved a very interesting meeting of minds and it has some great tracks and ideas about it. It’s far from brilliant but it is a highly enjoyable and even fun listen more than anything and hopefully the band will build on it and produce more material in the future. Having said that though let’s hope they don’t go totally overboard and do a Pigface that would be silly.
(7/10 Pete Woods)