Album Reviews

John Frusciante – PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone

on September 27, 2012, 7:59am
PBX2 C-
Release Date
Label
Formats

As one of the world’s most respected guitarists in one of rock’s most commercially successful bands, John Frusciante seemingly had it all figured out. So when the famed alternative guitar guru opted out of his second stint as a member of the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2009, many racked their brains for an explanation. But listening to PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone, it’s clear that Frusciante had an itch that the Peppers couldn’t scratch. A record as sprawling, layered, and flat-out bizarre as its title would suggest, reveling instead in an eclectic mix of electronica, funk, free jazz, and krautrock.

The record’s break from the Peppers’ funk rock formula shouldn’t come as a complete surprise to those familiar with Frusciante’s past solo efforts, which have always been hard to categorize. Some, like 2004’s Ian MacKaye-produced DC EP, keep things on a straight and narrow pop rock path, while others, like 2001’s To Record Only Water For Ten Days, are more enigmatic. But even with that caveat, PBX is Frusciante’s most challenging and niche effort to date. “Bike”, with its Buddy Rich-on-crank drum intro and skittering Pro Tools backbeat, sounds like a sonic freak-out from the year 2036, whereas “Ratisug” works its way back toward center while preserving the record’s heavy electronic lean.

The LP is anything but even-keeled, and the music constantly changes course, often within the same song. But with repeated listens, that quickly becomes part of its zonked-out charm. PBX is a record strung out on big, sometimes half-baked ideas and lots of lofty ambition, and fortunately Frusciante has accrued enough good will for listeners to let him off the leash some. It hits (it’s hard to listen to the beginning of “Mistakes” without thinking of that A-Ha video from 1987) and it misses (“Uprane?” Good God, what’s happening?), but still it keeps the air underneath its wings. If Frusciante had to bail on his Peppers gig to find inspiration, at least the result tickles the eardrums in some unexpected ways.

 Essential Tracks: “Bike”, “Ratisug”

 

6 comments

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elisabeth
February 18, 2013 at 5:31 am

John Fruscianti-love how your music makes me feel! Need it every day.

Functional Lunatic
December 26, 2012 at 10:23 am

Imagine it is 1983 and we are listening to flock of seagulls and duran duran. Suddenly someone comes down from the sky and hands you anything from today’s catalogue of music. It would be a collection of noises that you had never heard before, something so distant and new that it might be rejected by many.

Well here we are in 2012 and John has just come down from on high with what we’ll be listening to in 20-25 years.

Thanks John.

Chappy
September 28, 2012 at 8:58 am

This album is amazing. It gets better with each listen and i find something new each time.

John is a genius.

Digital Multimeter HQ
September 28, 2012 at 6:01 am

John Frusciante is one of my favorite guitarists

Bjorn Marks
September 27, 2012 at 2:57 pm

Frusciante is my hero he will always inspire me no matter what

Avi
September 27, 2012 at 12:20 pm

“Ratiug” (as in “Guitar”, backwards), not Ratisug. ;)

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