Music Review: "Outsides" EP by John Frusciante
- by Ninja Ross, 4 September 2013
First I’m going to get the song Breathiac out of the way... Because I don’t get it.
That’s a lot of noise for one song, right? What’s going on here? Are things falling over? Did I miss something? I’m not the most knowledgeable when it comes to music, but I like to think I know what’s what for the most part. It’s not a bad song, though; it’s just not on par with what I expect from Frusciante. I expect experimental, sure. But this feels more like he hit his head on a bunch of instruments and computers and thought “that’s not half bad.” But I’ve heard worse. I’ve even heard worse from Frusciante himself.
But as a Free Jazz piece, I think it works decently. Plenty of percussion. In fact, that’s the most dominant part of the song. It’s worth a listen and fans of Frusciante’s more electronic focused work, like PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone, should enjoy it. While I wasn’t a fan of that, I did find it interesting. I feel the same way about Breathiac; it’s enjoyable for what it is but not something I could find myself listening to often. Interesting but not easy on the ears.
Shelf is a nicer sounding experimental song; Lots of percussion and effects with intermittent guitars flowing through. It’s got a real nice sound and is the only song on the E.P with Frusciante’s vocals. And I do love me some Frusciante vocals!
He has a real nice quality in his voice that, while perhaps not being a great voice, is enjoyable and matches the rest of the song with ease. In Shelf it only comes up towards the end and there are only a couple of lines but it’s a great way to end a song that, really, could have gone on forever. But Frusciante has described both of these songs as “out” songs. He has said that “It's a modern approach to the concepts of harmony found in some late '50s/early '60s free jazz and some 20th century classical.”
The best song on the E.P is Same. It’s interesting that the song is called Same, considering that, out of the three, this song is a lot more reminiscent of his older, better known work.
It still has experimental edges, though. There are some effects in there and such but the dominant aspect of the song is the guitar. It’s closer to what you may find on Shadows Collide with People or perhaps some of his Chilli Pepper work. There’s some great guitar here, is the point and that’s where he excels.
Of course, he also excels at writing interesting pieces. But it’s often his work on guitar that set his songs apart from every other piece of experimental music in the world. It’s a blend of classic guitar and newer, more electronic sounds. It’s a best of both worlds kind of thing here.
But Frusciante’s work isn’t for everybody. Some of his songs appeal to the wider audience but these three songs represent his body of solo work a lot better than something like This Cold. That’s not to say that all of his work is like Breathiac, of course. These are the more extreme cases of Frusciante experimenting with electronic sounds.
So, I can’t recommend this E.P to anyone who isn’t looking for something different to listen to. Of course, it should go down well with any fans of Frusciante himself, since it’s got his unique sound all over it.
Did you check out "Outsides" yet? Are you a fan of the RHCP's on-and-off guitarist's solo work? Sound off in the comments!