• John Frusciante - PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone (2012) (5/10)

    Genre: Electronic Pop / Avantgarde Rock / Psychedelic
    Label: Self-production
    Playing time: 46:14
    Band homepage: -


    1. Intro / Sabam
    2. Hear Say
    3. Bike
    4. Ratiug
    5. Guitar
    6. Mistakes
    7. Uprane
    8. Sam
    9. Sum
    10. Ratiug (A Capella Version) (Bonus Track)
    11. Walls And Doors (Bonus Track)

    JOHN FRUSCIANTE has always been a quite unique musician. In his impressive career, he became the successor of his deceased idol Hillel Slovak when he joined the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS as a teenager in the late eighties and helped this band not only to survive but also to get their international breakthrough. He left the band from one day to the other during a tour and then lived in his chaotic mansion in sad isolation. As a young millionaire, he committed the same mistakes as his idol and started taking drugs on a regular basis. During that time, he became incredibly thin and was sometimes closer to death than to life. He recorded two strange solo records that are today sold out. They portrayed two extensive drug trips of and featured weird distorted guitar sounds as well as despaired and high pitched vocals of a very thin quality. He then completed a successful drug rehabilitation that eventually saved his life and he went back to his main band and created a massive comeback release with them in the late nineties. He though pursued his solo career and released his first acceptable records at the beginning of the millennium. In the year 2004, he released a total of four studio records, one EP and the first disc of his site project ATAXIA with Joe Lally and Josh Klinghoffer who would later become his successor when he left the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS again. These albums got all very good critics in the Alternative Rock scene and since then people still make a lot of noise every time this man releases something new. After the strong 2009 record “The Empyrean”, Frusciante focused on several side projects and collaborations with artists and bands such as OMAR RODRIGUEZ-LOPEZ, THE MARS VOLTA, SWAHILI BLONDE and SPEED DEALER MOMS. After the announcement of his new split with his main band, not much was heard from him before the release of the “Letur-Lefr” EP in summer 2012. The record was something completely new from the genius or madman and he described this new style very adequately as being some sort of Progressive Synth Pop. The release included massive electronic influences and vocal performances by several rappers such as KINETIC 9 or RZA for example.

    What followed last autumn is the strangely entitled “PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone” that closes the circle to this incredible man’s first inaccessible records with the exception that he seemed to be less on drugs during the recording of this release which is honestly said quite hard to believe. The record continues the Progressive Synth Pop experiments even though the artist stated that the main release would differ a lot from the appetizer in form of an EP. We still get many electronic pop influences as in the catchy “Uprane” featuring a beautiful violin solo or the dreamy closing ballad “Sum”. KINETIC 9 has another guest appearance in the quite diversified album highlight “Ratiug” that though requests multiple spins to really work out well.

    Other tracks may get as many spins as possible and still feel completely inapproachable. JOHN FRUSCIANTE opened his record with three unpredictable, chaotic and distorted songs that will break any head. The dark and almost cinematic “Intro / Sabam” includes strange folk chants played backwards, massive electronic melodies and strange sound samples such as multiple string passages with a drum computer crushing in. Some may say that this kind of music is pure genius and there sure is a lot to discover but to me, the whole thing doesn’t sound progressive or experimental anymore but only destructive and weird. It’s as if a barkeeper would have mixed twelve incompatible elements into one drink instead of choosing the two or three right ones. This song gave me solid headaches and the first real track “Hear Say” is even more disturbing and sounds like a musical acid trip. Chaotic electronic elements meet emotionless electronic vocals and a badly programmed drum computer. The jazzy vocals in “Bike” meet senseless drum patterns and boring guitar chords before chaotic electronic elements set in. This sounds as if AMY WINEHOUSE had met KRAFTWERK and a sped up version of the CHIPMUNKS. This may sound intriguing to some but in my humble opinion, this is just too much to take.

    Even though the record gets a little bit more accessible towards the end, this release is simply overloaded and incredibly hard to digest. This is only for friends of extremely experimental electronic music. Fans of the RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS or JOHN FRUSCIANTE’s earlier works or his stunning guitar play may have a lot of problems with this pitiless and experimental release. This is some sort of musical apocalypse and the points I give for this weird output are only dedicated to the artist’s overwhelming originality, his courage or madness to release this kind of music and to three better songs towards the middle and the end of the release. The bonus songs are only of a average quality at best and the original album is only thirty-seven minutes long but this is already more than enough and very hard to take. Try this out on your very own costs and don’t tell me I didn’t warn you before.

    (Online February 22, 2013)

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