108: PUSCIFER

When word first came that Maynard James Keenan had another project in the works, I don’t think anyone could’ve predicted what that would look like or what musical avenues it may go down. I one read a quote from Maynard describing Puscifer as somewhere where his id, ego, and anima all came together to exchange cookie recipes, and that still feels as apt a description as it did when I first read it probably 15 years ago.

Puscifer really started as a sort of collective with a revolving roster of artists, centred around MJK himself. While the lineup has become a less amorphous over the years, that same genre-averse, exploratory sense is still very much present.

Earlier output perhaps leant harder into electronica while the rock elements have become more central in later works, but it’s still a glorious mix that makes for an exciting listen.

Because if there’s one thing you can’t do with Puscifer, it’s make assumptions about what comes next. Songs thread together everything from electronic beats, synths, acoustic guitars, to rock instrumentation and more.

And of course the anchor point is the vocals. I’ve made clear my opinion on this, but in case you’re new here – Maynard James Keenan is the greatest singer I’ve ever heard. I’ve felt this way for nearly 25 years now, and the greatest gift Puscifer has given me is the opportunity to hear that amazing voice in so many different environments, demonstrating versatility and cementing the above opinion completely.

But something I must confess (which I never would have imagined), Puscifer’s sound is improved with the addition of a second vocalist. Carina Round’s amazing voice not only compliments MJK’s, but stands for itself against the music, creating an even more dynamic soundscape.

If I were tasked with suggesting a single song to introduce someone to Puscifer, I’m not even sure where I’d start. The variety of the back catalogue is remarkable, but even more remarkable is the consistence of quality.

With Puscifer you might get droning, contemplative beauty with Grand Canyon, or a rollicking rock song with Conditions of My Parole, or perhaps a gentle, empowering psalm like The Humbling River, or even an electronic alt rocker like Dozo. As I said, the variety is inspiring, and all of it is worth your time.