KIERAN GRANT -- Toronto
Saturday, February 17, 2001
Seeing the line-up that snaked its way out of the Horseshoe and
up the Queen Street sidewalk Tuesday night, it was tough not to
wonder which of those Red Hot Chili Peppers diehards would last
through the free solo turn by the band's guitarist, John Frusciante.
as he proved once again with the Tuesday release of new his solo
album, To Record Only Water For Ten Days, Frusciante is a musician
of two distinct personalities.
adept at harnessing the Chili Peppers' unbridled jock-funk on
stage and on record, kicking in necessary texture and edge in
the process. His much-fabled absence from the band between 1992
and 1998 did critical damage to their creative output, and his
return was greeted with a collective sigh of relief from bandmates
and fans alike.
take him away from singer Anthony Kiedis, bassist Flea, and drummer
Chad Smith and a very different muse takes over -- one that simply
doesn't have the Chili Peppers' target audience in mind.
not because I'm not a big part of the Chili Peppers, it's because
I have two musical lives," Frusciante said. "If Anthony
or Flea made solo records, it wouldn't sound anything like the
Chili Peppers. That's a sound that's made by four equal parts
that blend together to create an identity. The way we write is
completely democratic and selfless. It's no single vision.
been writing songs since I was 11. My record has a lot to do with
my growth as a songwriter since then. In the Chilis, it has to
do with my growth as a guitar player."
wrote To Record Only Water while touring with the Chilis between
November 1999 and April 2000.
was recorded at home on digital gear, and comes on like a lo-fi
combo of a bass-less Joy Division and spliff-less Tricky, full
of plaintive melody, chordant guitar, frosty keyboards, and a
drum machine that sounds like a steam engine.
uncanny vocal similarity to Bob Mould (Huesker Due, Sugar) has
been pointed out, though Frusciante never noticed it before.
as it's hard to equate the guitarist who supplied riffage on Blood
Sugar Sex Magic with the songwriter who laid down the stark, moody
electro-dirges on To Record Only Water, Frusciante doesn't look
much like the man who went AWOL from a massive rock band amid
stories of personal unravelling.
Biblical-looking scruff of recent years is gone. He's nicely decked
out in a sharp sweater, pressed pants, and out-grown Caesar haircut
that goes rather well with haunted eyes and a boxer's nose.
talks openly about spirits and the voices in his head that, after
he thought he'd laid down his guitar for the last time, convinced
him to make a proper record. There were two previous solo albums,
sure -- 1994's Niandres Les And Usually Just A T-Shirt and '97's
Smile From The Streets Hold You. Those were unhinged collections
of sound ("unsuccessful attempts at recording," he says)
that were still impressive in their weirdness.
you haven't done anything for as long as I hadn't, you just want
to show that you still exist," he says.
during a conversation in my head, the voice revealed what this
album would be. It said, 'Think of your body as a tape recorder,
and record only water for 10 days.'
you were to record the sound of water and play it back, it would
fill the air with positive ions because water is the symbol of
life. That's the feeling I wanted to create."
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