A Sphere in the Heart of Silence. That’s just sooooo proggy sounding. And I believe Frusciante agrees with me. The whole first song is- in that most quintessentially proggy way- an instrumental built around that most quintessential of Prog instruments, the synthesizer. I believe this is a Moog in particular. But you needn’t care about that. What you should know is that this is mainly an electronica album with some guitar/bass/piano thrown in. And because both Frusciante and Klinghoffer are basically non-electronica musicians doing electronica, we can forgive that little indulgence. Those looking for guttaral bass, screaming guitars and thudding drums, look elsewhere, preferably the previous albums I have reviewed. But those who want a) want some unusually noisy electronica with some basses/guitars and vocals here and there or those who b) want to check out the sheer range of Frusciante‘s multiple musical personalities, step right this way. I’d count myself in the latter category.
On to the album itself. Let me just dwell on that ‘unusually noisy’ phrase I said before. The whole album has a dull room-noise like hum in the background. It sorta thematically links the album together, but it isn’t always successful. While it works on most songs, it’s irritatingly loud on some, like ‘Communique’. That song is also notable for Josh Klinghoffer’s singing, which is a lot like Matthew Bellamy of Muse. In fact, all through the album, Klinghoffer handles the alcoholic-lisp singing on the tracks requiring sedate singing, including ‘Surrogate’, which is the most acoustic track on this album.
Frusciante‘s singing is the real high point here, especially the desperate screaming on ‘Walls’. It’s stunning, and ‘Walls’ is one of the most perversely likable songs I’ve heard in a long time. Nothing with a man screaming over an industrial sounding electronic loop with star trek effects has a right to sound this cool. But it does. It’s a very special song.
Unfortunately, not all of the album is as special. The Klinghoffer songs aren’t that strong, and the absurdly short ‘My Life’ leaves one with an oddly bitter taste in the mouth. One and a half minutes!! Where are the ribbons of electronic goodness I expected the piano to segue into? The best bit of this album has to be the first three songs and the somewhat Tool-like ‘Surrogate People’.
This is by no means the Frusciante album which I will be coming back to again and again. It’s an odd mix of electronica and non-electronica which works on occasion because of the sheer quality of talent backing it’s conception. Even so, it’s a bit too ‘out there’ for most, unless you are well into the realms of inverse snobbery towards mainstream music. Even then, it’s a bit obscure. But, I will be coming back to this to expand my musical horizons every now and then, especially to the scintillating ‘Walls’. But because of the weakish songs in the middle, and the oddly abrupt ‘My Life’, this doesn’t always sound right.
P.S. – This is a joint album between Frusciante and Klinghoffer, but for convenience I’m filing this under Frusciante.
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