The Aristocrats – The Aristocrats With Primuz Chamber Orchestra
The Aristocrats aren’t so much of a supergroup but more a group of super musicians. With 4 studio and 4 live albums under their belt they have decided to up the ante. For their new release “The Aristocrats With Primuz Chamber Orchestra” they have added a Polish string orchestra.
This of course has been done many times before by other bands with varying results. This album, I’m happy to say, works very well. The project came about after the band discovered a YouTube video of Primuz Chamber Orchestra playing one of their tracks. This inspired them to make contact and propose a collaboration.
An aristocrat is a person of high social rank, a member of the aristocracy. The band didn’t choose their name because of this, not being the sort of chaps to brag or elevate themselves in that way. Instead, the reason is comical if a little seedy.
As you will find on their previous albums, drummer Marco Minnemann and bassist Bryan Beller invented some mischievous track titles. Examples included ‘Boing!…I’m in the Back’, ‘Blues F**kers’ and ‘Sweaty Knockers’ so this gave guitarist Guthrie Govan an idea.
The name “The Aristocrats” actually came from an infamous dirty joke and movie of the same name. The joke is an in-joke among comedians which has the same beginning lines and a punch line of “The Aristocrats”. The rest of the joke is down to the imagination of the comedian telling it and nothing is off limits.
Anyway, let’s get back to the album. It’s entirely instrumental and the 22-piece string section adds another dimension. The style of the material ranges from jazz and blues through progressive rock to metal. Both Marco and Bryan appeared on another album I reviewed by Syrek so I am familiar with how accomplished they are. Most serious rock fans will have encountered Guthrie at some point or other.
The Primuz ladies and gents come right into focus straight away in ‘Culture Clash’. It’s from the 2013 Aristocrats album of the same name. The jazzy laid-back feel sets the scene for the next hour and a bit. However, the pace and complexity increase in ‘Stupid 7’. Sadly, being the shortest track on the album at just under 4 minutes means it’s over far too quick.
Next up is perhaps the best track on the album, certainly my favourite anyway. The strings feature heavily in ‘The ballad of Bonnie and Clyde’. There appears to be various stories about pairs of pigs with these names, I don’t which the track relates to. The video implies that it’s regarding pigs anyway and it’s a bit of an epic track.
The Aristocrats With Primuz Chamber Orchestra – “The Ballad Of Bonnie & Clyde” (click here if the video does not play)
All the tracks have appeared on their previous albums so there’s nothing new here, just revamped and orchestrated versions. That’s taking nothing away from this release though, it’s a great listen. Another stand out track is ‘Though the Flower.’ At over 11 minutes long, it takes you through many moods with some exquisite guitar work from Mr Govan.
The Chamber Orchestra aren’t just in the background as with some of these sorts of collaborations. They are quite often up front and prominent in the mix with the band seemingly in the background. That’s the case in ‘Jack’s Back’ but as the track progresses the band emerges as if to prove they are still there. On the five-minute mark the music stops abruptly, and the orchestra takes over again. Fortunately, the band do get another say before the end of the track.
The Aristocrats With Primuz Chamber Orchestra – “Jack’s Back” (click here if the video does not play)
Quite frankly the whole thing is a masterclass in various genres and is greatly enhanced by the extra strings. It all concludes with another 10-minute epic that includes some atmospheric passages involving the orchestra. Taken from their album “You Know What?”, ‘Last Orders’ brings this fine album to a sedate close. There is a wilder bit in the middle, because let’s face it, it’s a long time to play and resist the urge to let rip.
The pedigree of these guys precedes them, having worked with some of the very best in the business. Acts such as Steve Vai, Joe Satriani and Steven Wilson are just a few of them. The fact that the band has come this far is incredible when you think that it nearly didn’t come about. It only happened by chance when Guthrie was a last-minute replacement for a trio slot at NAMM in 2011. The chemistry was so strong that the band practically formed there and then.
The world (my world at least) is a better place because of this serendipity. This album should be filed under the special category in the annals of music history. I hope it proves to be a success and spurs them onto many more exciting projects.
- Culture Clash
- Stupid 7
- The Ballad Of Bonnie And Clyde
- Dance Of The Aristocrats
- Through The Flower
- All Said And Done
- Jack’s Back
- Ohhhh Noooo
- Last Orders