John Frusciante came back out of the darkness last week with his new EP, “Letur-Lefr”, which will be followed by a brand new LP “PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone” later in the year. Weird titles I think you might agree . The gent that he is, Frusciante published a post on his self-maintained official website which explains, or tries to explain in the best way possible, the meanings and reasons for the two above titles. So for those that care, check his site out.
This is the newest Frusciante music since 2009’s “The Empyrean”, apart from “Here, Air”, a track that he gave away for free in 2010. In those three years, it seems that Frusciante has completely re-evaluated his means of making music, and in “Letur-Lefr” he throws away the guitar (well, mostly) and sits at the computer to create a mainly electronic five-song collection, which I have to admit I have fallen in love with totally. The synth-orientated sounds and erratic, unpredictable drum beats that he puts forward are a surprise at first, even after the electronica of “To Record Only Water for 10 Days”.
In terms of style and overall vibe, elements of “Letur-Lefr” remind me of the better moments on Julian Casablancas’s “Phrazes For The Young”, and his introduction of hip-hop works amazingly well, drawing a similarity to the collaborative nature of Damon Albarn’s Gorillaz. The RZA gets involved on three of the tracks, his best moment being on “FM”. The two men have been well-known friends for some time now, and have worked together in the past (they did a song together on N.A.S.A.’s “The Spirit of Apollo”) album. As well as the RZA, other MC’s offer their influence, Masia One and Kinetic 9 being amongst others. It works so fucking well, whether you would expect it to or not. John’s beats are original and manage to completely draw you in, whilst occasionally throwing a curveball in the form of a tempo change or an experimental moment of clarity. “Glowe” is a perfect example, in the form of a 1.30-length jam that rounds off several styles of music using the same melody (which fans will notice is the exact same as “Dark/Light” from “The Empyrean”) and an array of different drum patterns. Also adding vocals is Nicole Turley, Frusciante’s wife and leader of the interestingly bizzare L.A. group Swahili Blonde. Her backing vox on “In Your Eyes” are haunting and work brilliantly alongside Frusciante’s wide, ever-changing range.
“Letur-Lefr” could make you believe that Frusciante has been constructing electronic music all his life. He would probably be the first to admit that he is still learning on that front, a self-taught producer/engineer over his many years of being a musician. But it seems he is learning fast, and I would be as excited as any other Frusciante fan if he were to continue to head in this direction with his releases in the near future. His ability to constantly reinvent himself over his albums (PBX being his eleventh) still blows me away and probably always will. I won’t pretend that I know a lot about electronic music because the truth is I don’t, I can only talk freely about my experiences with it and what I have heard. And as I always say, I was a little anxious before listening to “Letur-Lefr” purely because of my love for John’s music and my longing for it to be as good as everything else he has done. Luckily for me, I can now bathe in the relief and pleasure that it has brought me. A truly wonderful 15(ish) minutes of music that I will continue to enjoy for a long time to come. Welcome back, sir.