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Automatic Writing II

Ataxia

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Album Review

Coming after Shadows Collide With People and The Will to Death, Automatic Writing — credited to Ataxia — is part of the onslaught of John Frusciante projects released in 2004 through Warner subsidiary Record Collection. The guitarist is aided by now-regular associate Josh Klinghoffer on drums and synthesizer; Fugazi's Joe Lally plays bass. All three played roles in the songwriting process, and the recording has a very spontaneous, searching thrust to it, so it makes total sense that it's credited to a band — as opposed to Frusciante's relatively private-sounding solo releases. Frusciante made a point to credit early PiL for being a major inspiration; that band's Metal Box is indeed an apt point of reference, with the album's long-form tracks (taken to a further extreme here) and skeletal, wide-open arrangements fostering a desultory, claustrophobic touch. This is, however, no attempt to re-create Metal Box. Frusciante's spindly guitar generates cautious prickles rather than abrupt slashes, Lally's deep basslines rumble rather than throb, Klinghoffer's drums are more heavy on the toms than the bass drum; in fact, the bleak, sparse nature of most of these 45 minutes recall the quieter passages of Fugazi's "Suggestion." On each track, Frusciante's vocals cast an anguished shade, involving spooky howls, distressed falsettos, and wordless mumbles that sound like they were recorded while his mouth was crammed with balls of cotton. His ever-developing synth playing — closer to piercing accents than anything musical — makes the occasional welcomed interruption. At times, there's a little too much puttering around going on, but the majority of the album is both haunting and bracing enough to keep you anxiously awaiting the next development. One does get the feeling that this album and the one that followed (from the same sessions) could've been condensed into one hour-long slab.

Customer Reviews

Absolutely amazing

This is one of my favorite albums, possibly the best of John Frusciante's work outside of the Chili Peppers. The vocal sound is somewhat reminiscent of Nirvana, but it can't be contained or defined in any comparison to another musician. Dark, brooding, and hypnotic, it builds slowly and powerfully into screaming climaxes. The twangy, repetitive, melodic guitar riffs, and the haunted, patient bass lines penetrate my ears and assault my mortal soul. Unlike the polished production that's found in "The Empyrean" and "I'm With You," Ataxia presents a truly raw, hard-hitting jam-band groove that's not for the faint of heart. The genius of each of these three virtuosos is recorded, dark and uncensored, in one single session. A must-have for any intrepid Fugazi or Frusciante lover.

Take your ego out of the equation and listen to every detail put inside each song.

Forget what you've heard from John in the past or what you were hoping you'd hear. I've read many blind reviews of fans complaining this isn't what they wanted to get from John and shutting it down forcefully. Guess what? I freaking love it. I can gladly sit through every song and dance around still amazed today. So much work and thought went into this record and it isn't over yet! Take the time to form your own opinion and make sure when you listen to it you have the volume turned up!

Beautifully done.

Come back....

Great collaboration here, like the first record better, Hope josh can feel john's shoes on the newest R.H.C.P. release?????

Biography

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '00s

Ataxia involved guitarist John Frusciante (guitars, vocals), Joe Lally (bass, vocals), and Josh Klinghoffer (drums, synthesizer, vocals). A portion of the band's sessions, titled Automatic Writing, was issued in 2004 on the Warner-distributed Record Collection, in the midst of a flurry of solo releases from Frusciante. Inspired in part by Public Image...
Full Bio
Automatic Writing II, Ataxia
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