Chronique | PIG - Red Room

Pierre Sopor 13 mai 2024

Raymond Watts' snout is never far away: here he is again, all dapper and wriggling, with a new album barely two years after The Merciless Light. If in the meantime we've been treated to re-releases of old work (Candy last year and Sin, Sex & Salvation with KMFDM earlier this year), we can finally lock ourselves in this promising Red Room.

As a reminder, red rooms are the modern equivalent of snuff films: videos of torture and murder can be found on the darknet for an exorbitant price. It's all urban legend, but it's not lost on Watts when it comes to naming his new album... in a perhaps unintentional nod to his recent track The Dark Room. Claustrophobic, the pig? It's hard to imagine the artist confined to a closed space, as its extravagance gushes forth from the very first track, on which Alexis Mincolla from 3TEEETH is a guest. Maybe that's the reason for this sudden taste for heaviness, the martial riff, the sense of primitive efficiency, the catchy chorus: Crumbs, Chaos & Lies is the ideal steamroller to get you in the mood.

But don't be fooled into thinking that PIG has turned to industrial metal "à la Rammstein": Red Room is the deviant crooner's latest folly, a playful, no-holds-barred album with an irresistible groove and plenty of catchy backing vocals (check out the cast of backing vocals, which includes Chris Connelly (Revco, Ministry), Emily Kavanaugh (Night Club), I Ya Toyah, Marc Heal (Cubanate) and Burton C Bell (Fear Factory), a host of loyalists only too happy to wade through mud puddles in the name of the "Lard"). Guitarist Jim Davies (ex-Pitchshifter and The Prodigy) is also heavily involved, having penned two remixes on The Merciless Light and, by Watts' own admission, left fingerprints all over the album. And there also is Stabbing Westward's Chris Hall and his smoother vocals who provide a nice contrast to Watts' vociferations on Sick Man's Prayer.

Red Room passes through ironic religious ecstasy (the offbeat gospel of Dum-Dum Bullet), creeping menace, catchy refrains (Dirty Mercy and ex-KMFDM Günther Schulz's guitar) to a blasphemous, fun-filled mass (the anthem Slave to Pleasure, with its surprising Bowie tones), during which our master of ceremonies grunts and squeaks, moving from the grotesque to the seductive with all his characteristic exuberance. And yet, while his rantings are as expressive and theatrical as ever, there's a certain restraint to PIG's sound, as on the strange Does It Hurt Yet?, that seems to display a perverse pleasure in building tension, to better take us on board when the release of a unifying chorus finally arrives. 

And yet, in the midst of this porcine debauchery of sin, PIG never forgets its quirky dandy elegance, those little organic touches like the piano that frequently pops in, or the brass on PIG is at the Window, with jazzman Enrico Tomasso, another Watts pigsty faithful. This Red Room undoubtedly has brick walls: it's solid stuff, and Raymond the pig is having fun with it with infectious pleasure! Since it's fashionable to quote Orwell to make him say all sort of nonsense, we can conclude by saying that he predicted the arrival of Red Room as early as Animal Farm: the pigs have taken over, and now everyone loves jumping up and down in muddy puddles!