Sound — 9
Ataxia is a side project featuring Red Hot Chili Peppers' guitarist John Frusciante, Fugazi bassist Joe Lally and multi-instrumentalists and friend Josh Klinghoffer, formerly of The Bicycle Thief. If you picked up this album and are hoping for something similar to RHCP or John Frusciante Solo music, stop. This is a whole new blend of music. With 5 songs ranging to about 45 minutes of music, each song averages to about 9 minutes. Each song on here is different and great in their own ways, all featuring steady concrete basslines that repeat through the entire song, almost giving a hypnotic feel. Over the bass is John's usual guitar, playing higher up arpeggios and licks that help carry the groove of the song. The drumming in this album is also very good courtesy of Josh who does a surprisingly good job keeping the drumlines fresh. What also gives each song character is that there is a lot of variety in the vocals. John has lead vocals on Dust, The Sides and Addition, Josh has lead vocals on Another and Joe has lead vocals on the epic Montreal. This ensures the listener will remain interested due to the wide array of voices heard on this album.
Lyrics — 7
The lyrics of this album seem very bleak at times, never too clear on their message or theme, but in this case, that's a good thing. This allows the listener to interpret the lyrics themselves, resulting in many different meanings between people. The vocals are all very interesting on this album, all three members have a unique voice. John's voice goes from a smooth, melodic style to grunts, screams, scowls and everything in between. Josh has a very feminine voice, sounding very ambient on Another. Joe has perhaps my favorite voice, it sounds very good incorporated with the sound and style of Montreal. All these songs have their high points with the lyrics, but Ataxia really isn't about their lyrics, it's about their intense hypnotic jams.
Overall Impression — 9
Automatic Writing is the first of Ataxia's music, the next being released in early 2007 which I've yet to review. Ataxia is great chill music and would be ideal to anyone who could enjoy catchy, experimental music that comes straight from the minds of three great musicians. Now this albums is not for everyone. If you prefer more radio-friendly songs under 4 minutes, don't waste your time with this album. This album may be too much to handle at first, but if you soak it up in intervals, then it is sure to please. My favorite tracks would be Addition and Montreal, also the two longest songs on the album.