Frusciante’s new solo effort stands up by itself

We’ve all done it. You buy a CD, take it home and quickly deem it the worst expenditure since the admission fee to Dude, Where’s My Car? Then, after a second chance the CD begins to grow on you like the pimple you thought would just go away. This is the case with John Frusciante’s third solo effort, To Only Record Water for Ten Days(Warner Bros.).

When first placed into your CD player, Frusciante’s work is downright frightening. Despite the initial shock, further investigation reveals subtle melodies and catchy rhythms that leave the listener increasingly attached to each song.

Frusciante happens to be the latest in a long line of guitar players for The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Ironically, Frusciante’s name appears twice on this list. In 1988, The Red Hot Chili Peppers hired the 19 year-old guitar prodigy to replace deceased member Hillel Slovak. The young guitar maven provided new energy for the Chili Peppers, powering the band through its 1989 release Mother’s Milk and the breakthrough album, 1991’s Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

But Frusciante’s frustration with touring and a growing heroin addiction caused him to leave the band early into the follow-up tour for Blood Sugar Sex Magik.

While the uninspired Chili Peppers labored away with Arik Marshall and Dave Navarro sharing guitar duties, Frusciante slipped into a heroin-induced delirium. After kicking heroin, Frusciante rejoined the Chili Peppers in1998 to record their most recent release, Californication. Fully recovered from his addiction, John Frusciante again ascended the peaks of success and, in his off time, returned to his solo work.

To Record Only Water for Ten Days possesses an obvious home recording studio feel. Frusciante manages to destroy the “me and my crappy drum machine in my uncle’s bathroom” mold pioneered by the likes of solo artist Paul Westerberg. In fact, the drum backgrounds, teamed with an incredible synthesizer, make for something similar to techno and nothing short of innovative genius.

It is these very backgrounds that may scare away first time listeners expecting a traditional guitar driven solo effort. New listeners might also dislike the quality of Frusciante’s voice, and understandably so, because it is bad. There is no denying that Frusciante is not cut out for singing. Like other great songwriters, including Neil Young and Bob Dylan, the listener can easily become accustomed to his offbeat harmonization. The guitar playing, while rhythmic on most tracks, clearly stands out in the album’s two instrumentals, “Ramparts” and “Murderers”.

To Record Only Water for Ten Days certainly qualifies as mood music. It will not make you chipper and spry on an already bad day. But if you can push Cobainesque notions out of mind, this gloomy album eventually proves to be oddly catchy. It would be a sound investment for any music buff with a mild sense of patience.

To Only Record Water for Ten Days is

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