John Frusciante – Outsides EP (2013)

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A solo effort in the most complete sense of the word — John Frusciante plays all of the instruments, and even designed the cover art for Outsides — this EP also reflects a singular creative genesis.

There’s an interior, very personal feel to these three pieces (a 10-minute exploration on guitar, and two abstract free-jazz tracks), a sense that Frusciante’s frisky sense of experimentation can only truly blossom when he is alone.

Certainly, his last few releases — items that represent some of the most interesting music of his career away from the Red Hot Chili Peppers — have surprised as often as they’ve delighted. Outsides, due August 6, 2013 in Japan and then later in August internationally via Record Collection, is no exception.

Frusciante’s opening cut, and center-piece moment, is “Same” — which, over its length, evolves from a synth-washed, militaristic cadence into a scorching moment of catharsis. Frusciante telegraphs this narrative arc, offering a series of acoustic asides before beginning an extended, molten rumination on his electric. “Breathiac” is the shortest cut on Outsides, but the most dramatic, as Frusciante deconstructs a dance song to its raw bone, muscles and nerves. “Shelf,” finally, recalls the outer-reach journeying found on early-1970s space-fusion recordings — combining angular rhythms, celestial scronks and a gnarled, free-form guitar to create otherworldly atmospherics.

Abstract and brilliantly unmoored, Outsides is the sound of a musician searching for something new, something outside the well-known boundaries of pop and rock that for so long governed him. Frusciante clearly has to make that journey alone. Thankfully, he’s leaving behind these ever-more intriguing souvenir items along the way.

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Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso

Nick DeRiso has written for USA Today, American Songwriter, All About Jazz, and a host of others. Honored as columnist of the year five times by the Associated Press, Louisiana Press Association and Louisiana Sports Writers Association, he oversaw a daily section named Top 10 in the U.S. by the AP before co-founding Something Else! Nick is now associate editor of Ultimate Classic Rock.
Nick DeRiso
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