Sound: â€śTo Record Only Water for Ten Daysâ€ť, released in 2001, is John Fruscianteâ€™s third solo album and his first since he successfully completed drug rehabilitation. It was fully recorded and produced by Frusciante and sees him experimenting with electronica, synths and drum machines, clearly inspired by bands like Depeche Mode and New Order. The sound is distinctly low-fi and helps the personal element of the album. Much like â€śSmile From the Streets You Holdâ€ť was a harrowing reflection of his addiction, this record is a mirror on his re-discovered interest in life, optimism and spirituality. It is perhaps unfortunate that â€śGoing Insideâ€ť, the opening track, is also one of the strongest on the record since it sets a very high bar that is not always reached again, although there are some true flashes of genius, not least the amazing â€śFirst Seasonâ€ť and the instrumental â€śRampartsâ€ť and â€śMurderersâ€ť. â€śMurderersâ€ť in particular is a great demonstration of Fruscianteâ€™s signature stripped down guitar work that fuelled his work on Californication and indeed his career since he re-joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The album is also an indication of the much more reserved role Frusciante would leave for guitar, focusing instead on songs as a complete piece, harmonizing all instruments to achieve something that works above the level of individual riffs.
As mentioned, there are some tracks that do not sound as aesthetically pleasing as others, for example the high falsetto vocals on â€śIn Rimeâ€ť. This might be because the quality of the recording is not up to studio standards, or perhaps Frusciante does not have the control over his voice that he demonstrates in later work, or maybe he simply chose to push out the boundaries of his repertoire at the expense of aesthetics. Whichever it may be, this does not mean that the album is hindered too much overall, only that there are a few dubious choices. // 8
Lyrics and Singing: Fruscianteâ€™s lyrics really shine on this record. â€śGoing Insideâ€ť opens with the line â€śYou donâ€™t throw your life awayâ€ť, a clear reflection on his past drug habit's and indicating the focus on an optimistic and happy future. The themes of reflections on time, past and present, meditation, spirituality and optimism are continued throughout the album. There is a lot that subtly resonates with Fruscianteâ€™s life and attitude: â€śSomeone is waiting to fly with me, someone is saying goodbyeâ€¦but I've reconsidered it and I'm convinced everywhere I look has a face, everyone who has lived has a place, right here's every world, every time draws a line to right nowâ€ť (â€śSomeoneâ€™sâ€ť), and even if one is not overly familiar with his history there is a lot of depth to be found in many songs. The singing style varies, most notably rising to falsetto, and while this generally works well with the music there are instances where it is too overbearing and distracting. // 9
Impression: While "To Record Only Water for Ten Days" may not be for everyone, and some songs not even for die-hard Frusciante fans, there are enough truly great tracks to make this worth buying (â€śGoing Insideâ€ť, â€śFirst Seasonâ€ť, â€śRampartsâ€ť, â€śMurderersâ€ť, â€śAway & Anywhereâ€ť, â€śSomeoneâ€™sâ€ť, â€śWind Up Spaceâ€ť, â€śRepresentingâ€ť). The record as a whole is a landmark in Fruscianteâ€™s career. It represents a shift in guitar style, particularly towards minimalism and greater experimentation. The move from funk, while sadly waving goodbye to the era of â€śBlood Sugar Sex Magikâ€ť is at the same time a natural evolution of Fruscianteâ€™s song-writing as a more mature, meditative exercise. The lo-fi quality gives this a great personal touch that is perfect for the biographical nature of the album. While I may not give this the same attention as, for example "Curtains" or "The Empyrean", it is a beautiful record to pull out every now and then and I would have to replace it if it was lost or stolen. // 9