John Frusciante

Enclosure

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Best known as on-again off-again guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, John Frusciante's solo career has been an anomaly of various confusions and curiosities, never falling even remotely close to the arena-ready radio alternative rock of the Chili Peppers. Early records like 1994's Niandra Lades and Usually Just a T-Shirt were wandering, strung-out experimental affairs, and in 2001 Frusciante began an infatuation with electronic music on the more drum machine and synth-leaning To Record Only Water for Ten Days. Enclosure, his 12th in a long line of dizzying, befuddling solo albums, follows a series of releases that all followed similar electronic themes and diversions. Released in 2012, PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone and surrounding EPs Letur-Lefr and Outsides saw Frusciante diving headfirst into disorienting, barely cogent electronic music and filling in any remaining space with everything from Funkadelic-like guitar solos to cameo appearances by members of Wu-Tang. These recordings followed the same unpredictable path of Frusciante's entire solo career, but often proved too dense to really translate even as deeply experimental music. Enclosure, while still a daunting album, reins in its song structures and tones down some of the rampant experimentalism of its forerunners, offering up a hard-edged collection of dark, rabid electronica that (unlike other Frusciante efforts) stops before degenerating into total madness. Busy drum'n'bass rhythms are one of the key obsessions of the album, and the live drums that show up here are often chopped and highly edited d'n'b samples that intermingle with slower electronic drums, as on the quickly shifting "Sleep." Frusciante's vocals are delivered with a harrowing, evil heaviness, somewhere between early goth rock and the dour growl of '90s grunge. Cold synths arpeggiate over jungle rhythms and a pained croon on "Stage," and "Zone" sees the artist slip into a slithering soul falsetto over a sticky hip-hop beat. Even though the songs sound more like, well, songs, Enclosure is still plenty confusing. "Run" follows no discernible tempo or structure, with drifting rhythms of various origins and seemingly random electronic bleeps. The lengthy "Cinch" is made up of wandering guitar solos over campy, theatrical chord shifts and showboating live drums, never quite culminating in anything but rolling along excitedly for six and a half minutes. As confusing as it can be in moments, some light finally starts shining through on what Frusciante's aim has been with this phase of his solo work. Perhaps just too ahead of its time to be really dissected, faint echoes can be heard of everything from the insular mastery of Aphex Twin to OutKast's understated brilliance at production and even the composed chaos of Karlheinz Stockhausen. Not easily understood as dance music, experimental music, or rock music, Enclosure considers, rejects, and reconsiders all of them on a second-to-second basis and stands as one of the more listenable of Frusciante's ever-obtuse solo albums.

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