I am quite besotted with John Frusciante‘s music currently, so I’ve embarked on a quest to gather and listen to all of it. His Chili Peppers stuff is, of course, done and dusted, but I do want to listen to more. So I’m starting with The Will to Death, one of six albums released by Frusciante in a course of as many months. Now, if that isn’t badass, you tell me what is.
Moving on, “A Doubt” has a strong Hendrix flavour to it, recalling “All Along the Watchtower” especially strongly. The contrast of that with Frusciante‘s very sweet voice is quite interesting. It does stand apart as my favourite track on this album, what with its strong melodies and the lovely warmth of Jimi’s influence.
There is a VERY strong 60’s vibe here. The whole album recalls Hendrix, Jefferson Airplane and Janis Joplin in general. Its beautiful. Music back then had so much space. And so does this. No bullshitting teenagers hammering away on guitars to cram every inch of your head. Music needn’t be vaccum packed. It can be put a big box with plenty of Styrofoam balls to cushion it. This one is.
Like The Emperyan, the production on The Will to Death atypical from modern rock music. The sound of the music is not wall-to-wall guitars which is the (very annoying) case with most rock productions these days. Frusciante gives all the instruments, particularly the drums a lot of space to breathe.
I know I’m going the wrong way around as far as Frusciante‘s solo discography is concerned, but its inevitable that this will be compared to The Emperyan. It isn’t as good, if you want to know. I’m missing some of the melodies that make his other work so memorable. Let me put it this way; The Emperyan was made with the melodies first and the harmony and rhythm second. Here its very different. It’s still wonderful, but it just doesn’t have the same magic.
There is a conspicuous lack of keyboards in this album, except on “The Mirror”, which is very piano driven. It’s a good track, and provides a refreshing counterpoint to the jangly guitars and woody bass littered throughout the album. The bass, is especially unique in its earthiness, particularly on “Time Runs Out”. In fact, while the bass has always been a very earthy and warm sounding instrument, this is soft brown and grassy green central.
The drums are unusually loud for a rock record, but I like that aesthetic. It works very well, except for “A Loop”, where I find the drums uncomfortable sounding, and um….a bit amateurish. I generally dislike this song, but the noisy reverse tracked guitar solo at the end is nice. Another not very likable song is “Wishing”, which sounds like half hearted singer-songwriter fare. And the treacly piano doodle at the end does not help it.
In any case, thats not my main problem with this album. Its just that I miss some potentially powerful tunes which I heard hiding around. They didn’t come out well enough to make this into a really strong album. Even so, its a good, if slightly non-conformist example of Art Rock today. Its not Frusciante‘s best, but by most accounts, this does sound right.
This guy makes wonderful music. More of his reviews HERE.
His stuff falls under PROGRESSIVE/ART/PSYCHEDELIC, reviewed HERE.