ARTIST: John Frusciante
ALBUM: TO Record Only Water For Ten Days
LABEL (YEAR): Warner Bros. (2001)
FOR FANS OF: Ataxia, Dot Hacker
Words by Aidan Daly
John Frusciante’s career with the Red Hot Chili Peppers is a well-known tale of heroin, near-death experiences, and cathartic reunions. And his second departure. Yet running parallel to this, Frusciante’s solo career has yielded music that tops most of the Chili’s output in its vision and execution.
2001’s To Record Only Water For Ten Days is one such example. It’s an album of minimal proportions; not only are most of the tracks relatively short, but also noticeably sparse in their production (it was recorded at Frusciante's home on an 8-track, with all guitars apparently recorded direct-in – no amps whatsoever). The overall aesthetic of Ten Days owes to the influence of new wave and electronica, and as such features the central use of synths and drum machines – at the time a significant musical departure for the musician.
This use of electronic instruments sounds almost kitsch and slightly amateur at times, yet, instead of this taking away from the flavour of the album, this is precisely what gives it its awkward charm. Tracks like ‘Remain’, ‘Murderers’, and ‘Invisible Moment’ exhibit this best, with clunky, mechanical drum patterns and stock synth lines supplementing Frusciante’s lo-fi guitar and vocals. ‘With No One’ and ‘Wind Up Space’ also utilise these components, but in a much more affecting manner. Lyrically, both seem to be reflecting on the psychological damage of a debilitating heroin addiction, the latter all the more moving for Frusciante’s piercing, wailed vocal delivery.
One outlier on the album also deserves a mention – the fleeting ‘Ramparts’. The swell of intricate, layered guitar parts appears around the middle of the album, sounding nothing like the rest of it, and evaporates as quickly as it comes.