QUICKSPINS: I and II – John Frusciante

 RHCP guitarist delivers an album out of left field

If you like ambient noise or are a synth nerd that likes fiddling around with drones and beep-boop chatter, then you’ve come to the right place. John Frusciante, most known for his role as guitarist in the band Red Hot Chili Peppers, just released his 13th studio album.

While this album might give people like my girlfriend anxiety, I can safely say that it helped me zone in on tasks that I had to accomplish (for instance, this review). 

Frusciante is known for his creative prowess in writing music, namely on guitar. However, this album takes it one step further in the realm of ambient synth music.

While Frusciante isn’t wading in uncharted waters with synthesis, vinyl-only I and digital/CD release II take the cake for his approaching a different method of songwriting. In his words, he “listened to and made music where things generally happen gradually rather than suddenly.” He used two analog synthesizers or groove-boxes from the company Elektron to make this ambient album. 

The album starts off with a harsh cicada-like synth on “Golpin.” The “trees are screaming” sound slowly evolves, allowing a sub-octave oscillator to fit in the mix. Five minutes into the 12-minute track, the wave takes an eerie turn with a slowly descending plucked sound, giving me the feeling that I’m being watched and followed.  

“Blesdub Dot” first starts off with what sounds like a two-oscillator waveform that has a smooth low-frequency output. What that means is that the sound rhythmically switches to a lower frequency at a set interval. Throughout the song, Frusciante implements a high-frequency wave with high-pass treble glitch noises. They sound like white noise chatter. 

This album is a bit weird for me to have a favourite track on. I would rather choose the songs that were busier than others. The first one being “Pyn,” for its ’90s-style chatter that tickled my brain the same way that “Bucephalus Bouncing Ball [Chosen by Warp co-founder Steve Beckett]” does with its rounded percussive notes. My next recommended song is “Clank” because it would fit right into the official soundtrack of a thriller or eerie movie.  

Honestly, I can say I enjoyed listening to this album. It’s not an easy listen for sure. In an age where music has to have a lot of shock value (trap stars I’m looking at you), and has multiple sharp twists and turns per song, this LP takes time to introduce new ideas to you. Best for working on programming, writing Stephen King-esque novels and cramming for exams with forbidden white noise.

P.S. Don’t listen to “Glavation” if you get easily overwhelmed.  

Trial track: Pyn 

Rating: 8/10 (for ambient drones’ sake!)


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