Of all the things that Les Claypool is a master of, subtly is not one of them. Armed with an arsenal of bass guitars and a sensibility that merged Zappa-esque irreverent virtuosity with cornpone whimsy, Claypool has been on a decades-long mission to make truly "alternative" music, mashing up styles and influences that most people would never conceive of. Because of this legacy, an album like Four Foot Shack, the first from his project Les Claypool's Duo De Twang, is both a refreshingly weird departure from what everyone else is doing and a completely normal offering from the bass wizard. Making up the other half of the duo is guitarist and kindred spirit Bryan Kehoe (M.I.R.V., the Kehoe Nation, and Colonel Les Claypool's Fearless Flying Frog Brigade), who shares Claypool's love of bluegrass and general sonic weirdness. Together, the pair weave together a collection of songs that manages to feel stripped down in spite of the masterful playing at work. The album is made up of a mix of originals, reimagined Primus tunes, and covers that run the gamut from Johnny Horton's "Battle of New Orleans" to the Bee Gee's "Stayin' Alive," which have been injected with a healthy dose of twang to transform them into something altogether different. Listening to the duo stomp their way through their rendition of Alice in Chains' grunge classic, "Man in the Box," it feels as if we're getting a glimpse inside Claypool's mind, opening up the possibility that this is just how these songs sound to him (a not unrealistic notion given how complete the transformations are). The musical realm that exists inside of Claypool's head is a bizarre one, but the songs on Four Foot Shack have a weird knack for worming their way into your head, turning your waking world into a surreal, country-fried cartoon version of itself that's oddly endearing. It's this quality that makes this outing from Les Claypool's Duo De Twang one worth exploring, even if it means having lines like "malted buttermilk pancakes all day long" on an endless loop in your head.
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AllMusic Review by Gregory Heaney