Artist: Justinus Primitive

Album: Children of the Law of One

Sometimes it’s clear that, happy as I am with an album, I’m *not* its target listener.

Like, with Justinus Primitive’s Children of the Law of One, well … there’s this dumb recurring Facebook motif that might help explain. First photo (in a real version we’d put these lyrics from City Dervish as superimposed captions in all caps): justinus_primitive_law“Have you ever tripped out to the gaze of the Sears Tower? Absorbing city energy it amplifies in perfect power”. You’d need a visual equivalent of the mediaeval church-like low vocal drones, and the percussion line that’s part standard drum machine, part Aboriginal tribal ritual. A gifted photographer might catch the twilit tower just right, angle it so it looms with enough awe, somehow arrange a few exiting businessmen and customer sales reps to look as though they’re mid-dance rather than mid-scurry to the subway. Second pic, “Have you ever laid down in the sands of Oak Street Beach? Divine whispers off the lake of sweet truth and subtle speech”, is easy. As long as the sunbathers look meditative rather than drowsy, it’s okay that your beach pic has no compositional or color-array similarity to the first pic; it’s Facebook feed, no one cares that it’s ugly.

The photo for “Have you ever considered the metaphysical implications of the fact this place exists?” should catch the urgency, the double-speed rap vocals and syncopation and precise diction over that ancient background; I dunno, a crowd of eager tourists exiting the shuttle bus to see Stonehenge, perhaps?

The fourth panel is an unimpressed cat answering “No”.

Justinus Primitive announce their agenda from the first song. Over its soft machine drone, and a web of low voices being didgeridoos and beat-boxers, a singer in a Krishna-like (or Anticon-label-like) monotone proclaims “I was all hormones and energy, now I’m a vision of what life could be. I am a human being, capable of touching all of infinity”. He’s not bragging: by the end of song two he’s announced “We’re coming closer to becoming one mind: breath of life, power, Fully Realized Human”. The Internet announces its agenda every minute: it’s about cynicism and cat pictures. Now consider how you’re reading this review.

grumpy_catThat could be that. I could enjoy the long-held interlocking vocal notes, and later speeding synth-xylophone and drum fills, that make up Song of the Creator; while giggling at its request “Close your eyes and see Heaven, Earth, day, night, skies, seas, plants, trees, the sun, water creatures, air creatures, land creatures, man”. I could — oh, be honest, I *do* — respond to the multi-millennia jumble of religious imagery on Welcome the World Changer with a faux-amazed sigh of “Those are EXCELLENT shrooms, dude”. I read enough for-laymen books of experimental psychology and neurology to know that the capacity for religious awe seems to be genetic. Half the population has it far more than the other half, and I know which half I’m in. John Cleese of Monty Python found lasting peace and oneness with the universe from his few experiments with LSD. I’d probably just go “Oh! So that’s what oneness with the universe feels like. Interesting!” and be the same crank I am.

But … I admire what Children of the Law of One is trying to do. So as Justinus Primitive‘s bells and chimes and hi-frequency tones and vibrating drums pull me along, I find myself admitting, hey, I’m happier paying closer attention to “skies, trees, water creatures, air creatures”, a thing fatherhood has taught me. My own Facebook page has, just to make me happy, an album I’ve filled with photos and long eager captions about weird, interesting stars / fish / amphibians and their improbable traits and talents. I also relate some (more than I’d care to discuss, at least) to “Remember when we were anarchists? We had nothing but the food in the dumpster, and we loved it … My last lesson? It’s not about rebellion, but that was necessary”. As In Dreams‘s rap drags along its own time-shifted double, I relate even more to “I don’t wanna fear my potential, but I don’t wanna be a part of reinforcing social norms”, and the sense of responsibility in “All the time and energy spent to rear me seems like it should at least add to something”. And I like how the last 75 seconds of the album, musically compelling, are a series of pointed thank-yous to the people who’ve given the band leader help and direction.

And so, in writing a long review that began as a short review of my #46 album of the year, I’ve found myself becoming more its target market than I expected. Not fully, of course: Justinus Primitive‘s bandcamp page states flat-out “This album is encoded with a spiritual healing system called Magical Awakening. As you listen to the record, try to receive the healing and you will”. I’m pretty happy already, and in a science-nerd, music-collecting, cat-petting “physical shell” way. If I need healing later, this probably won’t be it.

But there’s sounds here that worked for the Hare Krishnas, sounds that worked for the druids, sounds that worked for mediaeval Christians, sounds that worked for Aborigines, and sounds that worked for black-clad teens in goth clubs. Together, they’ve gotta be perfect for somebody.

– Brian Block

To see the rest of our favorites, visit our Favorite Albums of 2012 page!

Technical note:

You can stream Justinus Primitive’s Children of the Law of One, read the lyrics, and buy it at 

If you’re game for buying things via our Amazon links (and it makes us happy when you do) – well, Amazon doesn’t have Justinus Primitive. But here’s a cd that’s sonically similar. Or you could follow this Amazon link and then buy a sailboat from Amazon instead. That would be okay!