Enclosure review by John Frusciante

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  • Released: Apr 8, 2014
  • Sound: 6
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 5.3 Decent
  • Users' score: 6.5 (32 votes)
John Frusciante: Enclosure
4

Sound — 6
John Frusciante is known by most of the musical world as the guitarist from the Red Hot Chili Peppers who wrote some of their most famous material before quitting the band for a semi-monastic life, rarely showing up in the public domain and trying to avoid attention in general. To anyone not familiar with Frusciante's solo work, it is far different from his work with RHCP. Since his latest departure from RHCP, in 2008-09, Frusciante has focused on electronic music, something he has called his life long dream. "Enclosure" is Frusciante's eleventh solo album and it may be his most eclectic yet. Aside from the obvious auditory eccentricities of the album, it is notable that this is Frusciante's first album where he is the sole performer/programmer. He played all of the instruments, did all of the electronic programming, and was the producer.

No matter how interesting and complex Frusciante's mind may be, the fact that he is the only person to play a major part in the making of the album gives the album a narrow direction. While some would contend that having a person write and produce an album in solitude would result in a more focused effort, I have to say the opposite is true here; this is one of the most disorganized albums I've ever heard.

At many points, I ask, "how in the world did he think of this stuff?" And believe me, I don't ask that question like I would of a Tool album. Frusciante's material is weird and very hit or miss. For me, it is hard to see through many of Frusciante's eccentricities and find the light at the end of the tunnel. Vocals, while usually a uniting force, with this album, just muddle the mess most of the time.

Of course, in an album that is comprised of hit or miss songs, there must be some elements that hit. As I would have thought, Frusciante's guitar work is impeccable, affirming the praise of those who heralded his work during his years with RHCP. The riffs are interesting and the chord progressions are easy enough to understand without becoming too repetitive. His guitar solos, when they show themselves, are thoughtful and create vivacious vibes, oftentimes more so than the baseline melody does. If Frusciante could just keep his electronics and outlandish song structures under control, his guitar work could shine.

The electronics Frusciante uses are not all bad; there is just such a deluge of them. I personally feel that if he could use these electronics with a surgical precision, or at least with some consistency, Frusciante could become a successful electronic artist. Shades of this potential can be heard in the songs "Shining Desert" and "Cinch" where the guitars are meshed with relatively consistent electronic instrumentation to conjure up a harmonious auditory experience.

The album's production is one of its high points. Frusciante is adept at using the full stereo spectrum to his advantage. Regardless of my opinion of the musical content, the Frusciante's production values are high. The only peeve I have with it is that the drum sampling hovers between full on electronic and acoustic. For whatever reason, I dislike his choice in this department. Otherwise, the mixing is great.

Lyrics — 5
As mentioned before, John Frusciante himself takes on all of the vocal duties for this album. It would be too simple to say that Frusciante is just not a good singer. Actually, he deserves some credit for not being horrible. But all things considered, Frusciante could have done well to have hired a stand-in singer for the album. Specifically, I feel that his voice does not show too much personality and his melodies sound neither interesting nor catchy.

Lyrically, nothing catches my eye. The lyrics just seem bland; there isn't really much of interest in this department. Frusciante makes it pretty clear that the ear-catching material is meant to be in the music, not the vocals.

Overall Impression — 5
There is such a fine line between genius and insanity. This album revels in graying that line or, rather, jumping across it and back again. Like much of John Frusciante's solo work, this album is a rather eclectic blend of electronic instruments and interspersed guitar work. For me, the light rarely turns on and even when it does, the result is ok, maybe just slightly above average.

But of course, a given with any sort of eclectic album is that there will be widely varying opinions. While this album did not strike a chord with me, it very well might with you. If you are interested in listening to this album, the first two songs you should hear, in my humble opinion, are "Shining Desert" and "Cinch."

38 comments sorted by best / new / date

    echoshard1
    You can't compare his solo works with RHCP. Those are two different styles of music.
    Charles_Manson!
    I've never really been into the rhcp funk stuff. I freaking love John's solo work, especially the Outsides EP and Enclosure! I love the broken sound he's creating with those drums.
    twiggy3634
    Great album. The best of his electronic work, by far. Not his greatest solo album though, that title belongs to Shadows Collide With People
    Barricade_28
    His best solo albums are Shadows Collide With People and To Record Only Water for Ten Days. I loved the opening track on The Empyrean but not the entire album.
    Rimfrost
    Don't know if you've allready been there but you should check out his Sphere in the Heart of Silence album, i think you may enjoy his blend of guitars nd electronics on hat one. It's very different from his recent works in the genre.
    Z0S07657
    Just so you know, he said this will be the last album he will make of this style.
    sven.stazic
    John will always be my favourite artist no matter what he does with his music.. call me subjective but I dont give a shit, everything he does moves me in certain way.
    Filipus
    Its like the latest albums, this is suppose to create atmospheres and not really have a "song" per se. I think your comparisons were very poor and you didn't judge the album for what it is. I'm not in love with it either, I just evaluate it for what it is.
    Lee Makky
    Sorry but this just isn't good compared to his other albums. He will never top his work with RHCP.
    ChucklesMginty
    I think 'The Empyrean' comes pretty close.
    Rimfrost
    Agreed, would also mention Inside of Emptiness, i enjoy that one as much as i enjoy Chilipeppers. Very raw and straightforward rock album with some nice melodies.
    Jmoarguitar
    The Empyrean is my favourite album ever, period. It's an album that can take you to other dimensions, in my humble opinion.
    Beer.
    What about The Empyrean, The Will to Death or Niandra LaDes and usually just a T-shirt? I think, Johns solo work is "evolving" stronger than the RHCP stuff. Even if I dont like them all, I personally think John has made some pretty awesome stuff. P.s.: I have to agree with you that his RHCP stuff is excellent!
    the_bi99man
    I'm with you on The Empyrean, but... Niandra Lades? Really? That album is 100% horseshit, and even Fruciante himself knows it. He admitted in some interview a while back that that album was back when he was still a heroin addict, and it was made for no other purpose but to raise funds for more dope.
    the_bi99man
    Actually, my bad, I'll correct myself, it was the next album, Smile from the Streets you Hold, that was made just for drug money. Still though, Niandra Lades is crap. He didn't really come into his own as a solo artist until To Record Only Water for Ten Days.
    ant0nic14
    That your opinion though, I think Niandra LaDes is beautiful And Smile from the Streets you Hold, has some really interesting stuff in it, it's just the playing/singing of this album that it extremely raw. Some people like it that way though. I myself find some of it's songs really good. See ya
    Nuclearcrayon
    I agree. Listened to Blood sugar recently. Some of the funkiest stuff i've ever heard on that album. But whilst the RHCP aren't as good without John, I think "I'm With You" is still pretty solid.
    the_bi99man
    I haven't listened to this album yet, but I find it pretty hard to believe that his vocals would be bad, where they show up. The dude deserves way more credit than "not being horrible". He's an incredible singer. He also taught the Chili Pepper's singer how to sing. And wrote most of his vocal melodies for him on Mother's Milk, Blood Sugar Sex Magik, and Californication. Again, I haven't listened to this album yet. Maybe his vocal performance and/or style takes a complete nosedive. But, assuming it's at least on par with what he's done in the past, I want to ask who this reviewer thinks is a good singer, if Fruciante is not.
    JG1992
    I really don't get why the reviewer thinks his vocals are bad on this album. I think they're as good as on his other albums.
    k0stil
    He never wrote any vocal melodies for RHCP (only maybe his own backing vocals) but he is indeed a far better singer than anthony
    theclassicrock
    I actually enjoyed this album even though I disliked his other electronic albums. Stage, Fanfare and Vesiou are particularily good.
    Alice2Mudgarden
    this is booking awesome. Idk wut you all R talking about; genius. Shining Desert is a perfect mix of acid house and Frusciante's guitar style, kinda Phil Collinsish. Bravo bravo
    grizzzzly_adams
    I enjoy this album, but not as much as PBX when referring to his electronic experimentation. Someone earlier noted that this is his last music installment in his experimentation. I wouldn't doubt that John will use electronics in the future because he always talks about how much he loves them, but it may be less broken style. I got what I expected with this album and I'm happy I pre-ordered it on vinyl. I can see why people might not enjoy this music but I appreciate his musical artistic mind.
    grizzzzly_adams
    I also think the review is honest. Very on point when he says, "while some would contend that having a person write and produce an album in solitude would result in a more focused effort, I have to say the opposite is true here." I totally agree with this statement. I'm looking forward to his material he is writing or working on now, considering the music on this album is upwards to a year old, maybe older. Also, if any of you are interested in what John's work might sound like with rap, here you go:
    Wu-Tang affiliates.
    TheHydra
    "The riffs are interesting and the chord progressions are easy enough to understand without becoming too repetitive." Easy enough to understand? What? If I wanted easy-to-understand chord progressions, I'd listen to pop music. What does that even have to do with anything?
    blackwidow97
    Honestly, what people are saying is true... for the first few listens. When I first listened to the album, I thought it was crap, complete crap. However, a week later, I found I had one of the songs in my head, so I went back to it. Result? Still crap. But better. The third time I heard it, it blew my mind, and I have had it on permanent repeat ever since. Really, if you are open to it, and listen to the album many times, you will start to see the beauty that he has woven into his music... amazing album.
    blooddrunk
    When is he going to drop the pseudointellectual nonsense and hipster music and go back to what he does best?
    k0stil
    Its actually the second album where he played everything. The first one was 2001 to record only water for ten days. He also played everything on from the sounds inside but its not an official album
    kill it
    i really like frusciante and will check out the album. lately he's been getting a bit to electronic for my taste. my favorites are the empyrean and curtains.