REX’S RATING: 5.5 / 10
John Frusciante should be dead. At least, he was damn near close to being dead; and I’m shocked as hell that he’s still alive. If you could turn back time like Cher and see Frusciante just after his peak guitaring for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, you would have seen a lost soul gripped by the addictions of heroin, rocking back and forth with dilated pupils and talking drugged-up nonsense; (you can get a glimpse of what I’m talking about here). His talents on guitar were almost incomprehensible and alien-like (I mean, he wasn’t listed at #18 on Rolling Stone‘s 100 Greatest Guitarists Of All Time list for no reason…), but like many over-talented rock stars with temptations, the drugs seemed to overshadow the talent.
Frusciante has been releasing a string of highly successful and impressive solo EPs and albums since even before those dark days, but over the past few years Frusciante has decided to dabble around in the trip-hop and acid house genres – a stark contrast from what can be heard on releases like To Record Only Water For Ten Days and Shadows Collide With People. So now that I’ve listened to Enclosure I have to ask: Is Frusciante back on the bad shit? Because it totally sounds like it.
One could argue Enclosure is a sort of twinsie to PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone and his Outsiders EP, so if you’re already familiar with Frusciante’s solo work this new release of his won’t come as much as a shock for you. Let’s just say that if the album were to be a piece of art hanging up on a wall, it would look as if that artist splashed a bunch of random colours, materials, textures and maybe a few bodily fluids or two on the canvas, and if you don’t get it then, well, you’re just totally, like, not getting his art, dude.
Where Frusciante takes his Enclosure listeners is an entire universe in itself. There’s some trip-hop, avant garde, drum & bass, acid house, industrial, synthpop….no genre goes uncovered on this new record (there’s even a damn cow bell!) Even with a track like “Clinch” which meshes together his impressive guitar work with his newfound electronica obsession perfectly, I spent most of my time asking myself questions like “what is that static was doing there?” and “why is a dude shouting what sounds like “DAH! at random points in the song?” But no amount of weirdness can top what I heard on the closing track “Excuses” (or what I like to now call: “Is This What An Acid Flashback Sounds Like?”)
Because of the craziness hidden in, up, and all around most of the tracks on the album, when it came to songs like “Fanfare,” “Stage” and “Zone,” I couldn’t help but think to myself: “Finally! Some normalcy!” (And that’s saying a lot coming from me). I enjoyed the cheesy synthpop on “Fanfare,” even if it had no similarities with any other tracks on the album whatsoever, just because I’m all about bands ditching the guitar for the turntable like that. (Que: “Losing My Edge“)
I like that he’s keeping us on our toes and switching things up a bit, but I can’t help but worry about the guy. He’s such a fragile flower with this incredibly raw and creative mind, and there’s just no telling where his musical thoughts and inventions come from. When it comes to the tracks on Enclosure, I find it hard to believe that anyone with a sober mind could create anything remotely close to what Frusciante has crafted here The songs have a mindblowing, complex structure and you just know whoever wrote them had a technical, profound musical knowledge.
The main reason why I didn’t warm up to Enclosure was because I found the release frighteningly impersonal; (actually scratch that: let’s just say I found it “frightening”). It’s as if he’s hiding behind a mess of instruments and sounds that have no business mixing together in the first place, and the listener is forced to sift through the mess to understand what he’s trying to get at. But nevertheless, with all the craptastic solo rock acts floating around, I still believe that Frusciante is one of the few solo rock acts worth following – even if the direction he’s going in scares you shitless.