John Frusciante
PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone


2.5
average

Review

by Robbie Byrne USER (19 Reviews)
February 3rd, 2013 | 10 replies | 719 views


Release Date: 2012 | Tracklist

Review Summary: A challenging record that never gets into its stride

4 of 4 thought this review was well written

So what does PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone Actually Mean? If we take these words literally, it basically alludes to a finely designed counter balanced internal communication system. Huh? …This is either genius or utter bull***. Has Frusciante’s latest departure from the Chili Peppers made him even stranger than his reclusive period in the early 1990’s? Don’t get me wrong; I am massive fan of all things Frusciante, from the early lo-fi psychedelic charm of Niandra Lades to neo-prog madness of his Mars Volta work. Pre-album hype for PBX garnered attention among music press and fans alike when in March, Omar Rodriguez Lopez of Mars Volta fame claimed that John was working on something ‘epic’. A hype compounded in July 2012 when the Letur-Lefr EP was released creating a sound which managed to be both weirdly erratic and astoundingly beautiful. Synthesizers, (though nothing new in a Frusciante solo album) break beats and even rapping courtesy of RZA seemed to herald a new era for the sometime Chili Pepper member.

Sadly, all is not well in the PBX camp right from the opening track, Intro/ Sabam which opens with disjointed piano keys, screaming and backwards vocals makes the listener feel intimidated from the outset. The sunny synth-pop of Letur-Lefr has been thrown away for a far more surreal and progressive soundscape. The sophomore track, Hear Say doesn’t paint a better picture either, Frusciante mumbles some generic vocals, while chiptune electronic sounds come to the foreground; it’s a mess, only highlighted in the songs midpoint with contains the most dreary and pointless electronic sounds (probably) ever put on vinyl. Bike does improve matters only so slightly; Frusciante sings in his falsetto “I want- I’ve being searching”. Guess even the guitar god himself is searching for inspiration to sort out what is rapidly turning out to be a sinking disaster. This moment finally comes eight minutes into the album with the astonishingly good Ratiug, opening with shock, horror, a Guitar! Gentle programmed drumbeats and the odd dubstep wobble build up to a melodic chorus, which for the first time allows the listener to connect, “And you can have, you can have my face right now”. In Ratiug, it is possible to see Frusciante’s intent on combining electronica with guitar finesse with a splash of quirkiness. Ratiug concludes with some rapping courtesy of Kinetic 9, which rather oddly serves as a perfect ending to the albums centerpiece.

The tracks following Ratiug fall back into the Frusciante’s unlistenable electronic abyss, Guitar is a semi-decent instrumental, but it doesn’t hold a candle to previous solo Frusciante instrumentals such as Before the Beginning or Murderers. Mistakes is a somewhat catchy and upbeat if busy tune, while Sum is a beautiful ending to the album, marred once again by programmed drums which mar with the natural subject and dynamics of the song.

PBX is perhaps one of the most peculiar albums I have ever experienced. On one hand I welcome Frusciante’s amazing ability to stand right out of his comfort zone and create an album, which practically creates a genre for itself, following in the footsteps of Captain Beefheart. While on the other what has been created is on the whole an uncomfortable listen, sounds seem to have been thrown in to the mix just for the sake of creating something different, nothing seems to gel whether it be the cohesion of the album as a whole or the soundscape created by each individual track.

Download:
Ratiug
Sum
Mistakes



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user ratings (110)
Chart.
3.3
great
other reviews of this album
mulefa1 (4)
John Frusciante's album is an enjoyable electronic mess and I think his first proper steps into this...

Dan H. CONTRIBUTOR (3)
Brilliance tainted with blemishes....


Comments:Add a Comment 
Omaha
Staff Reviewer
February 3rd 2013



10064 Comments


i love the way you write, man. Have you considered writing more?

I grew up on the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and most of that love came from John Frusciante. I particularly loved The Empyrean, and I was hoping this album would be a continuation of that style. Instead it seems John wanted to shed his skin, and this isn't too enjoyable from the fragments I've heard.

Digging: The Contortionist - Language

VheissuCrisis
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2013



906 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Good review man. I think you're missing a 'most' before peculiar in the summary btw. Pos.

Digging: Interpol - El Pintor

Storm In A Teacup
February 3rd 2013



12702 Comments


Damn this sounds awesome.

elephantREVOLUTION
February 3rd 2013



2741 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

good review though i don't really agree with it. pos.

ExcentrifugalForz
February 3rd 2013



1707 Comments


If you don't mind something different this is actually a good album. Gotta love the drum beats.

Digging: Renaissance - Grandine il Vento

tommygun
February 3rd 2013



24551 Comments


double post

Digging: Broods - Evergreen

tommygun
February 3rd 2013



24551 Comments


I love this shit but it is very love/hate I totally understand what you mean man

really good review, pos

re: the album title - jf actually explained what it meant somewhere on his website and it kinda made sense in that strange way of his

RHCP1999
February 3rd 2013



53 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Thanks man! Yeah, ill check that out, what I was trying to put across was that for a casual listener the title is pretty much non-sensical.

Aids
Contributing Reviewer
February 3rd 2013



23806 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

more or less agreed with this review. I wanted to love this, but it's too scattered. The EP was much better.

RHCP1999
July 26th 2013



53 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

@Aids yeah agree with you on that one, loved Letur Lefr. Will be interesting to see what happens with the outsides EP.



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