John Frusciante - Maya Music Album Reviews

John Frusciante - Maya Music Album Reviews
The longtime Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist swaps the acid-house influences of his Trickfinger project for a loving tribute to ’90s jungle and drill’n’bass.

On paper, the on-again, off-again, on-again guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers writing a tribute to the UK’s mid-’90s hardcore rave and jungle scenes might seem like an odd proposition, but John Frusciante has plenty of experience in this domain. Along with more than a dozen strummed-and-sung albums under his own name, he’s released electronic music with his Trickfinger alias at a steady clip since debuting the acid-house-inspired project in 2015. In fact, this isn’t even the first electronic album he’s put out this year: An EP and third album as Trickfinger arrived in March and June, respectively. Maya, though, marks the first time he’ll release an instrumental electronic album as John Frusciante.
The album arrives via Planet Mu offshoot Timesig, established by breakcore mainstay Venetian Snares—with whom Frusciante made one of his earliest electronic excursions, collaborating as Speed Dealer Moms in 2010. It’s named after and dedicated to Frusciante’s cat, who was until her death a steadfast studio companion. Frusciante gives this intimate dedication as the reason for releasing the record under his own name; however, his own personal affinity for the rave sounds he emulates and extrapolates here surely has had some influence too. He’s said previously that while playing guitar with the Chili Peppers he yearned to be making electronic music. In the early 2000s he would frequent jungle raves in L.A., attempting to get a taste of a scene he felt had passed him by in the ’90s as he was writing multi-platinum funk rock with Keidis and co. This album certainly carries the sweat of those formative nightclub experiences. Where his Trickfinger productions are defined by an almost clinical cleanliness (despite the considerable array of sounds they clump together), he roughs the edges on Maya.

The album decays as it progresses, from gently undulating breakbeats and a luxe acid bassline on opener “Brand E” to elastic breakcore on “Zillion” and the disintegrating synths and squall of shattered drum kits of closer “Anja Motherless.” Frusciante’s beloved Roland TB-303—the squelchy synthesizer synonymous with acid house and rave, and a linchpin of those Trickfinger records—plays a supporting role while he throws himself into florid sampling and dramatic exchanges of control and release. “Reach Out” drenches a ’00s R&B staple in a hailstorm of breaks that shift between half-time lulls and double-dropped adrenaline shots. “Amethblowl”—the album’s lead single and a cinematic standout—encapsulates the fractious tension at the heart of the record, drawing out two minutes of glitchy snares and an imposing, repetitive bassline, before a mangled cry for relief sends the whole thing crashing down under a thunderous rolling breakbeat and cavernous bass.

Having honed electronic music’s fiddlier, more technical aspects over the past half decade, here Frusciante relishes a new expressive freedom. Melodic flourishes—like the hypnotic scrambled scales of “Usbrup Pensul”, or the playful melee of basslines on “Blind Aim”—give the album an unblemished glee that propels it forward with infectious abandon. Perhaps more importantly, these touches also move Maya beyond the realm of admiring pastiche and into more rewarding territory. The album has all the hallmarks of the era that Frusciante apes, but offers thoughtful, intriguing embellishments at every turn: A sudden retreat from the dancefloor to the chillout room halfway through “Flying”; the mutation of g-funk and sci-fi soundtracks on “Pleasure Explanation.” As tributes go, this is as fine an homage as any feline companion could hope for. The UK’s rose-tinted ravers should be honored too.
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About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

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John Frusciante - Maya Music Album Reviews John Frusciante - Maya Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Saturday, November 07, 2020 Rating: 5

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