In the early 90’s I whittled away countless afternoon hours watching the cartoon Captain Planet and the Planeteers. Everyday after school I would rush home to catch the latest episode, which featured a group of multinational kids who had fancy rings that could summon the powers of nature. When shit got too heavy for the kids to handle on their own, they could cross the streams of their rings to summon Captain Planet, who usually took care of business in short order.
As corny as it was, I did learn some things from that program. Mainly don’t throw garbage on the ground and take care of nature, both of which are pretty decent things to do. But more importantly, the show planted the seeds of the idea of collaboration and the importance of working with others in my young mind. On our own, we’re just a dorky kid with a flashy ring, but together we can be a flying, blue-skinned green-haired weirdo that can dominate everything!
When Primitive Race announced their formation a couple of years back, my interest was instantly piqued. The (then unknown) members of the group promised a return to the collaborative nature of industrial music’s past. As a longtime fan of industrial music, I had come to understand the importance of collaboration in a musical sense. Bands like KMFDM and Pigface, that had long been near and dear to my heart, utilized collaborative efforts to the highest extent. Each album featured different guests or often times an entirely new lineup, all but guaranteeing that you would hear something fresh and new. As a fan, you had no choice but to expect the unexpected and surrender to the ride.
Primitive Race follows largely in the footsteps of their earlier contemporaries, employing a veritable who’s who laundry list of industrial music vets over the duration of their self-titled debut. The album wastes little time getting off to a fast start, with the stunning “So Strange” leading the charge. Pulsating bass and a pounding four on the floor combine with singer Erie Loch’s cyber sneer so perfectly, you’ll feel like you just stumbled onto a long-lost Wax Trax! 12″ that hadn’t been spun in years!
That same energy pervades throughout the majority of the album, in spite of the long list of different musicians contributing and the unique sound that each person brings to the record. Perhaps the single biggest surprise throughout Primitive Race are the contributions of Prong’s Tommy Victor who provides vocals on a handful of tracks. Victor’s trademark snarl is usually hidden behind a wall of guitars but that’s not the case on Primitive Race. “Taking Things Back” is a modern day coldwave masterpiece, again proving that synths can be just as powerful as a distorted guitar and Tommy’s soaring vocal take is a testament to his versatility as a musician.
Really, there is little to find fault with on Primitive Race. There are some tongue in cheek moments such as “Platinum Balls” and “DJFH” which don’t really seem to fit into the overall vibe of the album and would have been better off released as b-sides or as an individual EP, seeing as both tracks are fronted by Graham Crabb of Pop Will Eat Itself. That being said, Primitive Race is a pretty solid debut album for a band that isn’t really a band and considering how many different people brought their talents to the table for this record, that’s an achievement in it’s own right. Most importantly though, Primitive Race has brought the idea of a creative collective back to the forefront, a facet of modern industrial music that has been missing for far too long.