PUSCIFER
"Donkey Punch the Night"

(Puscifer Entertainment)

01. Bohemian Rhapsody ? "O.G. Mix"
02. Breathe
03. Dear Brother
04. Balls To The Wall ? "Pillow Fight Mix"
05. Breathe ? "Drumcell rework"
06. Dear Brother ? "Denton rework" (Big Black Delta)
07. Balls To The Wall ? "Silent Servant El Guapo Mix"
08. Bohemian Rhapsody ? "Sonoio Rework"

RATING: 8.5/10

While most rock fans continue to kvetch at the lack of a new TOOL album (or even A PERFECT CIRCLE, for that matter), Maynard James Keenan continues to coddle his Id, Ego and Anima (to paraphrase the direct source) in his explorative outer refuge, PUSCIFER. What Maynard and his round robin supporting players have coughed up under this electro dust 'n dirge entity has been stimulating to follow since 2007's "V is For Vagina", which has its share of both supporters and detractors.

Nonetheless, Maynard's flexible intuitiveness has spawned PUSCIFER as the orgy seed of NEW ORDER, SKINNY PUPPY, NINE INCH NAILS, DEPECHE MODE and PIGFACE. Whether we see a fifth TOOL full-length manifest or not, we should take comfort the man's still creating music. Better, we should be pleased by Keenan's interchangeability as well as his compulsion to produce constructive forms of both linear and unconventional music in the spirit of Mike Patton and MOGWAI.

Following PUSCIFER's 2011 full-length, "Conditions of My Parole", this time we get served the "Donkey Punch the Night" EP, featuring two original cuts and two covers along with three remixes. The covers are focused upon a disarming recreation of QUEEN's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and a slicked-down, canyon-plunged grab of ACCEPT's "Balls to the Wall".

What Maynard and PUSCIFER achieve with "Bohemian Rhapsody" is an interjection of Maynard's haunting impression of Freddie Mercury dubbed into splices of the original cut. Henceforth, when Maynard takes on the quintessential lyric, "Mama, I just killed a man, put a gun against his head, pulled my trigger, now he's dead", it's far more shivery than Mercury's flamboyant and operatic projection. Maynard plays "Bohemian Rhapsody" like the repentant sociopath Mercury intended the muse to be, straight down to the guts and the gore before the PUSCIFER collective elevates the track up to the mythical masque of the original.

By contrast, the "Balls to the Wall" cover is nearly as morose as Udo Dirkschenider's piano version, yet PUSCIFER keeps an electro-guided pulse beneath the wallowing guitar leads and Maynard's moody swills. Where this "Balls to the Wall" hike is especially inventive is when it tweaks the original's underlying solo melody into the choruses this time. As Maynard has made it no secret he envisions PUSCIFER's music as part of a master cinematic plan, you can easily picture this cover guiding the insteps of onscreen outlaws and vigilantes, if not the protagonist of a dark street comedy. Later in the EP, the "Silent Servant El Guapo Mix" turns "Balls to the Wall" into a VANGELIS and TANGERINE DREAM-like electronic daydream, complete with a conduit of synthetic air ducts and atmospheric ostinato you can nearly feel caressing over your scalp. Suffice it to say, expect no resemblance to the original here.

The original songs "Breathe" and "Dear Brother" are the bigger highlights of "Donkey Punch the Night". "Breathe" is a mangled up, sultry affair merging DEPECHE MODE with A PERFECT CIRCLE and yes, shades of TOOL. Albeit, the main attraction is listening to Maynard whisper many of his lines in a puffing vocal conjoiner with Carina Round. Together they create audile foreplay building to a hinted-at climax in which Maynard escalates to a restrained growl before slipping back into a muttering chant, "don't forget to breathe." The erotic connotation is obvious and there's for certain a sweaty, writhing essence to "Breathe" that automatically draws flesh towards flesh.

"Dear Brother" harkens the lost highway gusty tones of "Momma Sed" and "Dozo" from "V is for Vagina" only with a harder jive on the bass lead and Maynard's breezier vocal attack. There there's Carina Round's swooning background heaves and sighs lending more sensuality than PUSCIFER's early day tracks. There's an inherent reach for alter-pop housed within "Dear Brother" that's reminiscent of AIR and even GOTYE. If not for the blatant vocal nods to the EP's titular donkey punching, this one could've stood a chance at least of striking the indie alt channels on FM.

The remixes are interesting but unnecessary, though slapped together, PUSCIFER's "Donkey Punch the Night" EP is a groovy, sometimes twisted hodgepodge of Maynard Keenan's dexterous craftsmanship. Slip it on like a sheath for sex or spin it to revolve your own creative turnstiles. The PUSCIFER communal continues to fascinate in less saturnine fashion than Maynard's more famous and louder alma mater.

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