John Frusciante is one of the most respected guitarists making music today, and as an audience we have watched him rise and fall, both musically and personally. From his work with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, to his solo albums, musically he has impressed audiences with his law defying guitar skills for years. On a personal level he has struggled with drug addiction and his band, but he has come out on top of it all. Enclosure embodies these ups and downs of his life. It isn’t just another solo album where he will create new gorgeous guitar solos and rhythms, this is Frusciante’s first attempt at a techno/electronica album. With a fresh start comes a fresh sound, something new and unexplored by such an artist.
An attempt at a new genre is enough to make anyone skeptical, but you can rest easy knowing Frusciante is not at limited to the guitar. His abilities are vast and expansive, and this album proves it. He uses a drum and bass sound inspired by artists like Aphex Twin, and he blends them with his own sound, sometimes still including his legendary guitar skills. In some songs he brings his world of alternative guitar majesty to the fast paced sound of electronica, and it delivers a praise worthy child of experimental beauty. In other songs he dives head first into the electronica/dance genre and comes up with something still truly worth our time.
On the other hand, at times it is not hard to see that this is Frusciante’s first attempt at such a genre. Obvious gaps in the music, the addition of too many clashing sounds, or the lack of a few vital ones highlight Frusciante’s inexperience. He isn’t shy with this genre, using each and every sound as he pleases without hesitation. This gung-ho attitude sometimes pays off in songs like ‘Run’ where he blends a churning synth beat with dazzling high notes, and his own, one of a kind vocals. Or is songs like ‘Cinch’ where his world class guitar soloing ability meets the drum and bass sound of Aphex Twin with jaw dropping magnitude. But in other songs like ‘Crowded’ his devil-may-care attitude does not prove beneficial to his sound, when the fast paced drum beat starts awkwardly crashing into his garage band guitar strumming, and the lot of it, buried by a smothering droning vocal melody.
What Frusciante has created with Enclosure, is something worthy of admiration, but a genre change is a difficult task for anyone who has been in the same few genres the majority of their life. Enclosure is something to be listened to, and it is something to learn from. After watching John Frusciante evolve over the past 30 years, we can be certain that this is not the best he has to offer, but it is a strong indication that the best is yet to come.