Outsides review by John Frusciante

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  • Released: Aug 27, 2013
  • Sound: 5
  • Lyrics: 5
  • Overall Impression: 5
  • Reviewer's score: 5 Decent
  • Users' score: 6.2 (38 votes)
John Frusciante: Outsides
3

Sound — 5
Guitarist John Frusciante has spent his twenty-odd year music career at the helm of a number of prestigious rock groups, most notably the Red Hot Chili Peppers. During his time as lead guitarist for RHCP, John played a significant role in creating a number of the band's most well known songs, such as "Californication," "Dani California" and "Snow (Hey Oh)." Despite this being the music he is most commonly referenced to, John Frusciante has spent his time outside of the group by collaborating with such prestigious musicians as Johnny Cash and Ziggy Marley, as well as actively focusing on his solo career.

John currently has an impressive catalogue comprised of eleven studio albums, each of which showed the guitarist moving into a more unique musical direction. On his most recent studio album, "PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone," the artist has decided to step away from the guitar oriented sound that has heavily comprised his earlier outings, and instead create his own frankenstein genre comprised of elements stemming from electronica, pop and hip hop: a move which sparked mixed responses from both critics and long time fans.

When it comes to John Frusciante's newly released EP, "Outsides," he remains true to the same style previously showcased on his previous studio outing. The album begins with the ten minute track, "Same." This electronic rock song is heavily built around a repetitive percussion beat, computer effects. Two minutes into the song, John Frusciante whips out his guitar and begins to play an elaborate, winding piece. John's guitar playing is as complex and impressive as it has ever been, but the most of the powerful execution is lost behind the same drum machine track and high-in-the-mix synthesizer work.

"Same" is one out of two songs included in "Outsides" that clocks in over seven minutes, the other being "Shelf." The second song on the EP, "Breathiac," sounds like a group of band students who have just picked up their instruments for the first time. The track begins with a drum beat which slowly decreases in tempo, just before the song explodes with rushed cymbal playing, wild trumpet notes and clarinet arpeggios all rush in at varying timings. There isn't hardly anything tying this piece together, and it is difficult to enjoy listening to.

The EP is concluded with "Shelf," which features several out of place tempo changes and a winding blues guitar solo, which once again just doesn't fit the bizarre instrumentation. The entire album sounds rushed. With a proper studio mixing and production, I feel that could have benefited "Outsides" tremendously: but not enough to make this album great.

Lyrics — 5
"Outsides" does not feature a lead vocalist, which is probably a good thing: the addition of a singer, on top of unorganized electronic beats and out of place blues guitar, would have only further hurt the album.

Overall Impression — 5
John Frusciante gives a very bizarre performance with his new EP, "Outsides." The combination of pulsating synthesizer work, the same repetitive drum machine track and unpredictable tempo changes, that when combined with John's winding guitar playing makes for a very bizarre listening experience. It is not as much the choice of instrumentation as it is that none of it works together. When you have each different instrument being played a different tempo, it makes the entire piece sound rushed. For any fan of John Frusciante who is looking for a very interesting listening experience, you may want to give this EP a try.

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36 comments sorted by best / new / date

    zucky22389
    It's amazing how our attitudes are connected with our preferences! If anyone else would have released this music, I would have coined it "garbage", but since John wrote it, I took the time to listen to it, critique it, and respect it.
    grizzzzly_adams
    I wouldn't call it garbage off the bat, but I would question the artist if their was their only piece of work available.
    TheHydra
    This review is an atrocity. The EP is incredible, and Breathiac is the best track on it! Listen to this and you'll suddenly understand everything:
    N-D
    It sounds like a group of band students who have just picked up their instruments for the first time. There isn't hardly anything tying this piece together, and it is difficult to enjoy listening to. I can't say it better. I really like all forms of experimental music, I like and respect Josh Frusciante's previous work, but for me this is example of bad experimentation. Of course, it have some nice and interesting moments - sometimes I feel I beginning to like this - but then the piece is replaced by another, and feeling lost. And I say this being a fan of avant-garde music, free-jazz etc. I hope at least John enjoys recording process P.S. Track "Same" is actually is the best (and only decent) song on this EP for me - but it's just me)
    N-D
    But respect to John for not being mainstream) P.S. Third track from the EP:
    jaber ayub
    like lemmy says one has to make a certain amount of shit musuc before its starts sound amazing
    finallife6
    I'm pretty sure this isn't the case for someone who has been making solo albums for 19 years, and music in RHCP from 1988 to 2006. His stuff is great, I personally don't like this ep but I wouldn't call it inaudible shit even if I don't like his new musical direction.
    sroze478
    Yeah, definitely disagreeing with this review. And music is subjective, so it's not a bad thing. But I liked this EP quite a bit. "Same" shows his guitar work again, which is nice after "PBX". And yes, "experimental" is the best word for it, but these songs are definitely not done by people "just learning their instruments", nor do they feature out of place tempo changes or anything that isn't intended to be there exactly as it is...Mr. Frusciante is one of the better musical minds of the past 20 years, I feel confident in saying. And producing/mixing are what he's been doing for most of that time, the sounds he can make from a tape of his guitar are tremendous...so don't go saying that better production would have made it better. Basically, this is exactly how John wanted it to be. He's sick of guitar, he's sick of performing, and he's sick of bands, the man just wants to produce music in the purest form he can find. And that happens to be messing with melodies and harmonies and using some synthesizers to do it (read some interviews to figure out why, I think he actually has a lot of valid points about how electronic music is more "shapable" than guitars/vocals/etc). So no, it's really not for everyone, but musically, it's way more than a frickin "5."
    TheHydra
    "He's sick of guitar, he's sick of performing, and he's sick of bands, the man just wants to produce music in the purest form he can find. " It's worth noting that this exactly mirrors what Zappa intended when he started working with the Synclavier.
    cheapanddrunk
    Hes gotta be back on drugs.
    cheapanddrunk
    This said, infinite respect for JF he is an absolute creative genius and I will always listen to anything he releases and follow his solo career and even features. To me it just seems odd. The music is progressively getting way out there from the Empyrean (which was a complete masterpiece). Letur Leffr was also amazing and very progressive musically. PBX had a bit of a disorganized Aphex Twin thing going on though I still thoroughly enjoyed the record. This new EP is cool, but so out there that the moments of genius don't outweigh the moments of dissonance. On drugs or not his mind seems to be in a weird place right now (weirder than usual for JF, anyway). I draw several musical parallels between his solo era now and that of the 90s (Niandra LaDes and SFTSYH). Hopefully he is not using, and can't wait to hear his next release!!
    grizzzzly_adams
    the empyrean is one of the best (progressive?) albums of all time. start to finish it is amazing.
    cheapanddrunk
    Its difficult to pin down into a genre, I consider it to be a progressive rock record, but moments like the end of unreachable, the second half of dark/light and some others are completely impossible to categorize. The man's a ****ing genius.
    finallife6
    Man I heard this stuff like 3 weeks ago But anyways to talk about this ep. I hated it, when I heard his recent song he released Wayne, I thought the guitar work was great but I couldn't fathom the repeated 10 mins of the same instrumentation over a great solo. I had that same problem with Same however I disliked the song for what he did to the guitar track smothering it underneath the drum machine making it more audible than another great solo. Then Breathiac sounds all over the place in a bad way, it almost sounds like a random mix match of noises put randomly. Shelf was my fav of the ep, the second half on the song sounds good though I had a problem similar problem I had with Breathiac during the first half. Maybe its because I'm not much of an electronica fan, but I didn't really enjoy this. Maybe its because I'm expecting his earlier stuff/ RHCP By The Way (The album is mostly his creative creation)I guess I should expect this new approach he's doing even though I hate how guitars have become ultimately diminished. tl;dr If you're expecting his pre electronic era. don't
    GunShadow
    This was a great in depth review, but I happen to disagree with the opinion of the reviewer. I thought it was a great EP, and I'm looking forward to more of his stuff.
    THE BULGE
    The reviewer has missed the mark here, hey I get it's not an easy listen to begin with but the fact the reviewer claims it is unorganised is a bit daft when the music on this release is probably the most organised and meticulous music he has made, no impromptu jams every beat of the drums copied and pasted every time change preconceived. I've yet to receive my vinyl so I can lay back and give it a proper spin and here it for what it is.
    owen94
    John said of the release: Outsides consists of a 10 minute guitar solo and 2 abstract out pieces of music. Here I use the word out in the same sense as the term was used in free jazz. It's a modern approach to the concepts of harmony found in some late 50s/early 60s free jazz and some 20th century classical. I don't employ any aspects of rock or pop harmony, and that was basically the approach, just to make music that is not reliant on the center that, on PBX, was provided by my songwriting style. I consider this to be working along abstract lines. Making forward moving, full sounding music without resorting to any familiar musical relationships of harmony to serve as a basis has been a goal of mine for quite a while. Both songs have my style of drums and guitar solos, but nevertheless I think of them as my version of modern classical music. They started as just orchestra, but I go wherever music takes me, and I use any instrument to express my feelings, just as I use aspects of any style. For instance, on "Shelf", despite the unconventional tonality of the section, I was surprised to find that a blues guitar solo worked well. Also, both songs have Acid sections.
    grizzzzly_adams
    (confession bear): i like this EP for all the reasons why everyone says they hate it. I do wonder if he is back on some heavy drugs.. Either way I hope to keep listening to new Frusciante tunes.
    The Jet Lag Man
    I love John, he's one of my favorite guitarists, his parts are always interesting to listen to, even the more simplified ones. This is disappointing to hear though, I'm nervous about hearing this album.
    kus-kus
    only one thing to mention; don't use 'dani california' or 'snow' as an example of rhcp please
    finallife6
    Why, he wrote the songs. Dani California was a jam revolving around his riff, Snow is the same thing, and Californication was chords put together to work with Anthony's lyrics on the song. So it is safe to say he wrote the songs because he gave them the structure. And they're talking about his past works to hos present work so it fits.
    kus-kus
    i just ment that snow and dani california aren't the songs that define rhcp sound, they maybe got some air time and some people like them, but they have lesser feel than some other rhcp songs. just my opinion as a long time fan (maybe you are as well) thou, no offence ment if you like the songs
    finallife6
    It has nothing at all to do with me or anyone liking the songs at all. The point here is to highlight John's writing style, not because the three songs ironically are 3 of the most popular songs he wrote. I myself would not consider these songs my fav either but this is a John Frusciante solo album not another RHCP album like you make it sound like the reviewer was saying, which he wasn't
    kus-kus
    actually i wasn't talking about the review or frusciante at all and i did not intend to make a notion regarding his playing or his compositions (my point wasn't to highlight shit); i was just saying that those songs are not rhcp's finest and nothing more, you took this thing to frusciante's work by yourself without me, i wasn't trying to start an argument, just expressing my feelings towards those songs, but i guess internet is for brawling for nothing after all.
    finallife6
    Is there something wrong with you? Read the first section: "Guitarist John Frusciante has spent his twenty-odd year music career at the helm of a number of prestigious rock groups, most notably the Red Hot Chili Peppers. During his time as lead guitarist for RHCP, John played a significant role in creating a number of the band's most well known songs, such as "Californication," "Dani California" and "Snow (Hey Oh)." " You yourself made it : " only one thing to mention; don't use 'dani california' or 'snow' as an example of rhcp please" What you're saying makes no sense this reviewers mention of the songs has nothing to do with the sound of the RHCP and is about the recognition these said songs have. I'm not going to waste my time with someone who complains the internet for not being a friendly place when I'm only telling you the truth without any cursing, read the review again before you look like a fool
    7thString
    yeah yeah you're a hardcore rhcp fan, hail hillel and bssm etc, we get it. we're all sick of kiedis pop-rap 3 note vocal range but dani california is still a great song, as an example of John and as an example of rhcp, with a great solo and the usual frusciante funk inspired riffs