Review Summary: simplicity over complexity.
The first installment in Ataxia's neglected legacy, Automatic Writing
, was a truly mesmerizing piece of music. An experimental album that ventured through the genres of Progressive music, and though it didn't contain any groundbreaking material, it does offer a spellbinding voyage through the abstract realms of ambient Rock music. Ataxia, for those who are not already aware, was a musical project consisting of John Fusciante, Josh Klinghoffer, and Joe Lally. The group only recorded 10 songs, approximately 80 minutes of content, over a two week period and only played two live shows in their lifetime. Automatic Writing was an odyssey through strange realms, an orchestration of cosmic sounds. It was a truly incendiary performance, yet there was still so much potential that could have been explored.
, though an interesting effort, does not expand on the musical conceptions of it's predecessor. It's driven by a different agenda; simplicity over complexity. It opens with, "The Empty's Response"
, a gentle ballad decorated with an almost ethereal atmosphere. It's as if the listener is descending into dreamscape, guided by the delicate voice of Josh Klinghoffer. The music is very basic, driven by a soft guitar arrangements and minor ambient effects so as to not disturb the emotionality that the music is meant to induce. The philosophy of simplicity that is album follows does work in some occasions, but in other times, the compositions just feel uninspired in comparison to the first album. Of course the recording sessions of Ataxia were meant to be spontaneous, letting improvisation reign over preparation. And this approach does prove to be successful in the recordings of Automatic Writing, but AW II, at times, just feels like it's a collection of B-sides. The album does contain lengthy progressive compositions like it's predecessor. "The Soldier"
, share a similar aesthetic displaying much more complex instrumental arrangements, and as interesting as the listening experience may be, they lack the alluring mysticism round in their counterparts in Automatic Writing.
But don't get me wrong, this is still essentially another enjoyable effort. "Union"
is perhaps the highlight of this album. It has a much more abstract orchestration than the other tracks, driven by a more rock-oriented sound decorated in ambient psychedelia. Automatic Writing and AW II, have sadly been destined to be the overlooked gems within the respective discographies of these three musicians, but they contain some of the most electrifying moments in Progressive Rock. I highly recommend this series to any fan of Progressive music as it will surely be a listen well worth your time.