During the pandemic, the Pusciforce was not diminished. Instead of sitting around afraid, eating lousy food and watching terrible television, the great Puscifer crew took this moment to find new outlets to express their creativity and share their incredible talent with the world. Lead singer-lyricist Maynard “MJ” Keenan (also well-known from Tool and A Perfect Circle) shows off his hysterical acting abilities in two masterfully recorded and edited concerts that streamed live over Halloween weekend, V is for Versatile and Parole Violator. He has surrounded himself with a group of extremely talented musicians who understand and mesh with his eccentricities, and each brings their own individual flair to the project.
V is for Versatile contains music from the “V” is for Vagina era (yes, I said it) and, ohhh, does it slay. Maynard, playing the wild character Agent Dick Merkin, kicks off this live performance by reminding us that celebrities are the aliens that live among us. The rendition of “Mama Sed” is so heavenly it will put you in a seated position. Maynard digs deep into his lower register from which his vocals reach new heights. Puscifer vocalist Carina Round straight-out sounds like an angel from above. During “Trekka” she plays a slightly out-of -tune guitar that seems to blend perfectly with the different “Art Of Noise”-like tribute sounds. The remaining Puscifer player, Mat Mitchell, is a synth God who also plays a clean Telecaster and key-tar, creating such undefinable music styles on his vintage equipment. The leaps between live songs and studio sessions, and the variety of characters Maynard plays keeps things interesting and entertaining from start to finish.
Music from “Conditions Of My Parole” forms the heart and soul of the second film Parole Violator. Maynard honed his best and most esoteric skills for the singing, acting and writing this project demands. It begins with “Tiny Monsters” played in a tempo and rhythm that create dynamics for the direction of the music. Keenan as character Billy D at the bar, behaving like the Dolly Parton-lovin loquacious drunk redneck that he is. The drummer making a precise loop but in real time adds to the hypnotic effect. Each song has its own little twist with seamless editing between shots of the musicians, their equipment and the board. Carina and Maynard sing in front of a beautiful forest background wearing cowboy hats. A Joshua Tree stood tall behind them throughout the love song “Monsoons”.Carina plays a banjo-guitar for the finale, a campfire sing-a-long to “Conditions Of My Parole” and “Home”. These last images, sounds, and emotions provided a great reminder that getting out in nature and enjoying the elements is some of the best medicine you can find these days.
The two live-recorded films each have their own different ambiance, and either or both would be a great compilation to put in during a drive in the desert. If that sounds as good to you as it does to me, I’d encourage you to get a hold of these highly sought out live recordings while you can. They are both available for order on CD and also on Vinyl for when you’re not driving.