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.