Review Summary: The creative machine shows no signs of slowing.
In the same way that misery searches for company, stagnation searches for John Frusciante. The only difference being that the latter have never met. Producing no less than four albums in 2004 and numerous others before and since, you can’t help but get the feeling that there isn’t a day in the life of John Frusciante where an idea isn’t spawned, experimented with, or recorded. His last heavy foray into electronic music; 2001’s ‘To Record Only Water for Ten Days’, was a triumph. Consisting primarily of simple synthesiser beats infused with mellow guitar fills and instrumentals, it was a genre spanning experiment which showed his vision and drive to keep evolving. Advertised as the precursor to full length album ‘PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone’, ‘Letur-Lefr’ continues Frusciante’s trend of evolving and experimenting, and adopts a sound that the man himself describes as ‘Progressive Synth Pop’.
By his own admission, John Frusciante has spent a lot of time over the past five years broadening his horizons and honing in on genres that he’s previously explored but “had no idea how to execute”. With ‘Letur-Lefr’, he finally combines genres in a way he had hoped to for so long, and he’s having a great time in the process. Album artwork is often ambiguous, but the carefree finger painted style mirrors the delight he expresses at being able to “to focus exclusively on music for music’s sake”. ‘Letur-Lefr’ was built with enjoyment at its core, and it shows.
Although the contribution of guitar work on ‘Letur-Lefr’ is minimalistic, it still plays a vital role. Rather than driving the songs forward, it stays in the background and serves to add layers to the songs, most notably on opening track ‘In Your Eyes’. The gorgeous rippling undertones it provides are not only a welcome reminder that this is not a complete departure from Frusciante’s signature sound, but also help to compliment and accentuate the effectiveness of the synth beats. The most powerful and memorable moments on the record can be attributed to the combination of vocals (be it rapped, sang, or yelled), and bright synth beats. ‘909 Day’ features vocal samples and rapping, but it’s the upbeat tune and almost angelic vocals that see the song out that make it a highlight. A similar effect is felt in closing track ‘In My Light’, where a combination of rough Frusciante yells are juxtaposed with a peaceful fading outro that brings the EP to a fitting close.
The biggest disappointment with ‘Letur-Lefr’ is arguably the biggest compliment you could pay it too, it feels too short. A second instrumental to compliment ‘Glowe’, or another experimental track in the ilk of ‘909 Day’ would certainly have been welcome. Thankfully however, Frusciante seems keen to run with his new electronic obsession for much longer, as full length ‘PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone’ is likely to go hand in hand with this release. With ‘Letur-Lefr’, John Frusciante wholeheartedly embraces the fruits of his labours after a lengthy learning curve into the world of synth and electronic music, and whets our appetite with an excellent Extended Play.
I wish 9009 days had been like a four minute song though. Such a cool tune. The middle three songs of this EP are some of my favs of his, as I honestly prefer his stuff when his vocals are used sparingly, to complement the music rather than be the main focal point, but whatever.
@insomniac, Thanks for the pos man. I can certainly see the appeal of his guitar based work, Curtains, The Empyrean etc are great. There's something about when he dabbles in electronics that pushes it to the next level for me though.
@Puddles, FM is probably the least 'Frusciante' sounding song here, and yet its probably one of the best.
Shadows Collide With People is his best and most accessible, but if you like raw rock try Inside Of Emptiness. Still, To Record Only Water For 10 Days is a beautiful record and it's worth a spin. The Empyrean is really good also and it has a more psychedelic feel. These 4 records are essential JF IMO.
Great review man, I was gonna write one myself but you pretty much summed up my thoughts in yours. I'm really enjoying this record with headphones on listening to all the layering, especially on 'Glowe'. The first track and 'FM' are very, very good. Pos from me
Thanks man, much appreciated. Agreed about the layering, the subtle use of guitar really comes out with headphone listening. You can tell he's really spent a lot of time on the finer details with this one.