In what I can only assume was a political protest, A Perfect Circle
released an anti-war album, eMotive, on November 2nd, 2004. eMotive came as a surprise to most APC fans since it had only been a little over a year since the bands ground breaking Thirteenth Step had been released. Unlike Thirteenth Step, eMotive lacked almost all of the good qualities of other APC releases, mainly taste.
Tool and APC’s front man, Maynard is quite obviously upset at the direction the country is going in. His reaction was very sixty’s hippie, a protest album. Consider this disc one big open letter
to the editor of your local newspaper. I don’t care if you agree with his politics or not, I’m more interested in the music itself. Which is why I think eMotive is such a disaster. Why would one of rocks most creative bands release a collection of mostly uninspired
The first actual track on eMotive was a no-brainer. What anti-war
album can be complete without a cover of Imagine? I must say though that this version does not remind me of John Lennon whatsoever. That is not a complaint. APC manages a brilliant reworking, the albums most successful track. Unfortunately for APC fans the disc doesn’t stop there.
What follows are embarrassing, obviously hurried covers of Peace,
Love and Understanding, What’s Going On, Depeche Mode’s People are People and several others. Interspersed between are the “fun” tracks that add filler crap to all of Maynard’s releases. Put these together and you start to wonder if this disc was worth the effort to record it.
Two of the songs that stand out are Maynard originals, Passive and
an industrial remix of an earlier APC song. Passive actually sounds like an out take from Thirteenth Step, a beautifully pissed off rocker with lots of passion and deeply moving, “Wake up and face me, don’t play dead cause maybe/Someday I’ll walk away and say/You disappoint me.”
Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums is a remix of APC’s song Pet from Thirteenth Step. In this incantation it is a disturbing, disharmonic Industrial masterpiece: “Don’t fret precious
I’m here/step away from the window/Go back to sleep/Safe from pain
and truth and choice and other poison devils/See, they don’t give a
fuck about you, like I do.”
eMotive mercifully ends at this point with a very usual track for Maynard, an acapella version of Fiddle and the Drum – a Joni Mitchell Vietnam protest song. The most improbable track I would ever expect to hear from Maynard. Funny enough, Fiddle and the Drum ends up as the best cover outside of Imagine. Maynard’s voice is actually incredible and we usually don’t get to hear it without a distorted backdrop. Who knows if this whole rock/metal thing doesn’t work out for him Maynard could always form a boy-band.
In the end, I believe that eMotive failed because the art became
subjugated to the message. Which doesn’t always mean the art won’t work, but in this case we didn’t end up with the Sistene Chapel. Beyond that, does Maynard lose some street cred with metal fans for even acknowledging songs by John Lennon, Marvin Gaye and Joni Mitchell? Who knew?
What I don’t understand is why didn’t Maynard just release Imagine as a single? It’s a great cover that would have gotten his point across without dragging A Perfect Circle’s otherwise good name through the dirt.