John Frusciante must have had some pent-up musical frustration building inside him these last few years. Whether it’s catching up on lost productivity as the result of years of smack addiction or just a need to get out from the white boy funk temple that is the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Frusciante released six solo records in 2004. His previous solo work has been pretty much ignored by most, though much of it is brilliantly honest and creepy, done lo-fi fourtrack style during the throes of his addiction. This new batch of recordings seems intent on focusing its energy on the power of collaborations and experimentation with genres he has yet to explore on record.
Under the name Ataxia, Frusciante teams up with drummer Josh Klinghoffer and Fugazi bassist Joe Lally for five tracks of dark, atmospheric pop. Automatic Writing has the feel of much of Frusciante’s earlier solo work but with the aid of a full band instead of programmed drum beats. It’s this three-man collaboration that leads to lengthier and more elaborate songwriting than is typical of Frusciante. Lally lays down deep, repetitive bass lines that lay a solid foundation for exploratory guitar and drum work.
Frusciante’s guitar tone and riffs are unmistakable, yet here sound fresher than they ever did in his day job. Synths are used sparingly throughout the songs, but are used more for their vocal treatments and noise-making capabilities than anything else.
The first two songs, of five, are the album’s highlights. “Another” has Lally and Klinghoffer entering dub territory as the foundation for Frusciante’s soft and incoherent mumbling. “Dust” is a similar yet equally enjoyable track, the rest of the album is pretty much undistinguishable from itself. Not necessarily songs you’s skip through, just nothing you’ll remember. Not a bad result from a few brief improv and recording sessions between these three musicians.
The fourth release from Frusciante in `04 was Inside of Emptiness. Again, this record is a collaboration with drummer Klinghoffer, this time going for some sort of garagey distorted pop and not delving into the experimental territory of Ataxia.
I hate to be too brief, but after several repeated listens I can’t find anything worthwhile or redeemable to say about this album. Lame garage rock riffs you’ve heard a thousand times before and even lamer attempts at catchy pop. A worthless album full of cliché riffs and even more cliché lyrics. I hope this wasn’t an analog recording, because that would be a horrible waste of coveted 2″ tape. One has to expect a few duds from a guy with enough gall to release six solo albums in a year, lets just hope none of the others are as bad as Inside of Emptiness.
John Frusciante – To Record Only Water for Ten Days
John Frusciante – The Internet-Only Album
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