A Perfect Circle falls short

Santo Caruso

When I was young, there was a popular children’s book called “Miss Nelson is Missing.” In the book, a sweet young teacher tries to teach a lesson to the naughty kids of her class by dressing as an evil witch.

Miss Nelson is done doing reviews for the week; its time for the witch to step in.

An oft quoted line from the movie “Anchorman,” involves a scene with Will Ferrell and his dog. Will Ferrell discovers that the dog has eaten a log of cheese and defecated in the refrigerator. He proceeds to deadpan that he “is not even mad; he is just amazed.”

This is how I felt when I listened to the new A Perfect Circle CD, “eMotive.”

I knew what I was getting into when I bought this album. I am an avid fan of the super group (which features James Iha of the Smashing Pumpkins, Paz Lenchantin of Zwan, Maynard James Keenan of Tool, the promiscuous Josh Freese of Evanescence and the Vandals and Billy Howerdel, the brilliant guitar tech and mastermind of APC from Tool).

Their first two CDs, “Mer De Noms” and “13th Step” get constant play in my car and have drawn rave reviews from music lovers worldwide. Not so much with this new effort.

Proclaimed as a “collection of songs about peace, war and greed,” the CD is 10 cover songs, one new song and one remixed original.

The tracks range from Marvin Gaye “What’s Going On” and Joni Mitchell “Fiddle and Drum” to Black Flag “Gimme Gimme Gimme” and Devo “Freedom of Choice,” but none really capture that which makes A Perfect Circle one of the best experimental bands out there.

These misguided remakes are paused by the song “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Bomb,” a new take on the APC original “Pet.”

This song also misses its mark, sounding more like a techno/industrial foul up, than the jarringly addictive version on the “Thirteenth Step.”

The entirely new “Passive” is OK at best, and a weak effort from a band I have come to expect more from.

I cannot hate the band for the concept. They certainly are not “selling-out,” as they have leaped away from any of there previous releases (“Weak and Powerless”, “Blue,” “Judith”) to try some different ideas on well known songs.

I find the CD is all atmosphere, all mood and I am constantly waiting for the guitar to kick in and Maynard to turn the volume up on his beautifully haunting vocals. But I am left wanting

I imagine this is what it feels like to be a Radiohead fan, where your favorite band creates a CD so incredible you are at a loss for words to describe it. Then the lead singer decides to go some completely different direction, shunning commercial and critical success for a different path.

This is the risk one takes when listening to a band of creative, clever and innovative musicians at the top of their class.

Occasionally the clunker is going to come out, and APC seemed to sense this as they followed it with the release of their DVD, “aMotion” which features videos and better done remixes of their more popular songs.

In the end, I am not mad at them for sticking their neck out, just disappointed because I am down $11 worth of cheese and there is some crap in my refrigerator.