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Automatic Writing

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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

I could listen to this album forever

This is a great album all the way through, and worth the money in my opinion. I would have paid double. John Frusciante cannot make a bad album as far as I'm concerned. I am better for having heard this.

My all time favorite album

Complete genius, almost entirely improvised-- John frusciante josh klinghoffer joe lally what else do you need to know

10 bucks?!?!

i love these song but i can't get them... it's 5 song for 10 bucks, making addition and montreal 3 bucks a piece. i wish they weren't album only songs


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 Limited's...
Full Bio
Automatic Writing, Ataxia
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Customer Ratings