Sunday, 19 August 2012

One rock star seemingly happy to fade into obscurity is John Frusciante of previous Red Hot Chili Peppers fame. During the nineties his struggle with drug addiction, specifically heroin, saw him leave the Chili Peppers and become a recluse - holed up in the Hollywood Hills with his arms covered in needle marks and the walls of his house covered in Graffiti like some William Borroughs character but living in America instead of Morocco. It seemed that Frusciante would go the same way as the a lot of the good and bad of the rock n rollers from Brain Jones to Syd Barrett. His habit became worse and worse as he released a string of experimental Barrett inspired records - the first of which (Niadre LaDes And Usually Just A T-Shirt) he maintains was not written whilst he was a drug addict. "I wrote [the record] because I was in a really big place in my head—it was a huge, spiritual place telling me what to do."
In January 1998, Frusciante checked himself into rehab after struggling to kick his habits on his own. When appeared out of the other side he began a much more ascetic lifestyle, completely cold turkey, taking up yoga and watching his diet closely. Not long after this, he rejoined the Red Hot Chili Peppers and the following year they released Californication to widespread acclaim. During the tour that followed the album, Frusciante continued to write songs which would land on the album To Record Only Water For Ten Days and were markedly less avant-garde.
In 2004, Frusciante released seven more albums following the same vane as To Record... (six of which were released in six months!) - the best of which being Inside Emptiness. More conventional songs, they are still marked with cryptic lyrics but all with a melancholic theme which reflects the fragile and delicate soul of an ex-addict.
Then, in 2008, Frusciante finally quit Red Hot Chili Peppers to concentrate on making more experimental music, releasing the Empyrian in January 2009 a concept album whose story has 'no action in the physical world'. On its release he explained on his website that he would not tour as the music made was created from a studio environment. The Empyrian also showed a change in direction, production wise, which seems to be where Frusciante is at now. With two new albums out this year (one EP released last month, Letur Lefh and an album coming out next month), he describes what the music is like:

"I consider my music to be Progressive Synth Pop, which says nothing about what it sounds like, but does describe my basic approach. I combine aspects of many styles of music and create my own musical forms by way of electronic instruments.:
John Frusciante, 2012

With a free download of the song which hints at what the album will sound like available at his website, it sounds like it will be a really interesting listen. My only worry is whether it will be lean to much on the experimental side an jeopardise the pop side, but maybe that isn't necessarily a bad thing, right? It combines bits of acid house underneath the brittle falsetto of Frusciante. It might take a few listens but then so do a lot of his earlier works. There seems no desire to tour still however and it begs the question of whether we will ever see him again or has he joined the ranks of the still alive but reclusive (and elusive) rock stars. As long as he carries on making beautiful music and shares it with the public I guess we can't grumble!

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