Review Summary: something is not right
An interesting new addition to the Bandcamp database is ‘JF Directly from JF’: a series of offcuts from the increasingly erratic electronic experiments that led to the underwhelming Enclosure
(2014). After stumbling through several bleep bloop/drum machine tracks, I was pleasantly surprised to land on an EP titled 4-Track Guitar Music
. After all, from the vast array of musical styles covered within Frusciante’s discography, some of the finest moments are found when he simply stacks guitars on more guitars; from the spritely ‘Untitled #6’ to the eerie ‘For Air’ to the genuinely moving ‘Ramparts’. Unfortunately, though all those familiar components are here - the loops, the tape-flipping backwards passages, the interweaving cascades of notes - the majority of 4-Track Guitar Music
fails to reach any great heights. This is due in part to some baffling production choices, namely the inexplicably loud drum machines drowning out the otherwise promising ‘Untitled 3 mix 2 !!’ and ‘Untitled 5 mix 2 !!’. Elsewhere, the EP is marred by a lack of direction. This isn’t inherently problematic when noting that previous meanderings - e.g. the back half of Niandra LaDes
- often led to magical places like ‘Untitled #2’ via Frusciante’s instinctive ear for melody. However, when combined with his frequent rejection of consonance here it creates an impenetrable wall between album and listener. Of particular note is that unsettling Fripp-esque brand of atonal wank shite which permeates ‘Untitled 4 mix 4 !!’. While it’s nice to hear John put down the synths for a while, the bulk of 4-Track Guitar Music
is tuneless, joyless, and utterly forgettable.