ALBUMS are odd concepts. They often make you wonder whether musicians
are truly happy with their lot. Sometimes, these affairs simply
give the artist a chance to flex their creative and in this
case, tattooed muscles outside the musical boundaries imposed
by their day job.
Red Hot Chili Pepper John Frusciante quietly released his own debut,
Niandra Lades and Usually Just A T-Shirt, in 1995, at
the behest of his celebrity friends Perry Farrell, Butthole Surfers
Gibby Haynes and the now deceased River Phoenix. The trio believed
that theres no good music anymore, and thought
perhaps Frusciantes guitar genius could remedy the situation.
The baby-faced guitarist was, however, suffering from depression
and strung-out on heroin. The resultant lo-fi, self-produced effort
was on the whole, an unlistenable din only momentarily revealing
his unbridled talent which helped elevate the Chili Peppers to worldwide
superstars with his performances on 1989s Mothers
Milk and 1991s genre defining Blood Sugar Sex
Magik. The album, unsurprisingly, sunk without trace, only
managing to shift 45,000 copies worldwide.
Conclusive proof that the drugs dont work and do, in fact,
make it worse.
Even 1997s Smile From The Streets You Hold
served only to show the junkies sorrowful mind-set, and Frusciante
himself admitted he recorded and released the album purely for drug
money. Thankfully, self-determination freed the guitarist from the
jaws of being another heroin-related waste of talent and cleaned
up his act, eventually rejoining the Chili Pepper ranks for 1999s
The guitarist is now a totally sober yoga devotee. To Record
Only Water For Ten Days reflects his new-found respect for
life and while it retains the fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants experimental
touches which were evident on his first two albums, there is a profound
sense of optimism and stunning songwriting in evidence most
notably on the touching The First Season.
Although this is a solo album in every sense of the word
Frusciante wrote and performed all of the instruments on this album
there isnt an overriding cloud of self-indulgence that
often blights the simplest song on your common-or-garden solo project.
Opening track Going Inside sets a precedent of positivity
with the words You dont throw your life away,
while a distorted squeal prefaces a stream of sensitive guitar flourishes
and impassioned vocals. Remain is a bastardized blues
paean for the millennium, its acoustic refrain competing with an
instant drum machine pattern to startling effect. Murderers
nurtures a simple riff reminiscent of Head (Beach Arab)
from Frusciantes debut album, Niandra Lades
is gradually coated in a pop vocal melody arriving at a sublime
conclusion. However, The First Season is the undoubted
highlight of the album. Remaining consistent with the albums
simplistic nature, it sees John flex a delicate vocal melody against
a tear-jerking string section.
While its safe to say that fans of the Red Hot Chili Peppers
will get a surprise when they realise To Record Only Water
For Ten Days certainly doesnt lend itself to the libidinous
nature of his funk-metal day-job, yet even the most cursory of listens
will leave you wanting to hear more.
A lo-fi gem.
Mad For The Racket
John Frusciante: hes not the full ticket
HELLO, SIR. WHERE DID YOU FIND HE INSPIRATION FOR THE SONGS INCLUDED
ON TO RECORD ONLY WATER FOR TEN DAYS?
John Frusciante: I think my songs exist before I write
them, in a place called the fourth dimension where sounds and shapes
and colours are the land. Theyre the air and the grass and
the wood and theyre all these feelings. When a collection
of those feelings is put into my head, because Im tuned into
that place, I have the skill technically to turn it into a song.
IS IT A SIMPLE PROCESS TO TRANSLATE THESE FEELINGS INTO SONGS?
John: Once I write the song I believe that it creates
a new atmosphere in a place called the fifth dimension where it
creates new life and energy and it makes things better and it makes
new places to live for the spirits who frequent these places.
COULD YOU HAVE MADE SUCH A RICHLY EMOTIONAL AND SPIRITUAL ALBUM
WITHOUT THE DARK EXPERIENCES OF YOUR RECENT PAST?
John: No, to make the album without the experience in
my life would be impossible. Its only because Ive gone
so deep inside myself and faced so many things that by nature I
should be scared of. You know, being in a room and sitting there
with a ghost, hearing their voice in your head and seeing them as
clearly as Im seeing you right now.