A Sphere in the Heart of Silence

Nov 23, 2004

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A_sphere_in_the_heart_of_silence_album_coverWhen the album was released, actually, just a few noticed the cover (if not just to understand what it represented), which indicated Josh’s presence. It was a tendency to consider it as a routine, but the fact is that until that moment, excluding the experience with Ataxia, JK had always been a session musician for John’s solo albums. But this time both are composers towards that aim that Frusciante almost approached: Electronic music.
To develop the album they decided to proceed as they did with “Inside of Emptiness”, is to say with an impulsive spontaneity. But instead of classic rock instruments, came beats and primitive digital waves, composed by a duo that does not let the experience in a certain sector, guide or stop them.
A Sphere in the Heart of Silence rises as we can imagine a blend of those elements, evokes a jam session made of synthesizers let free to breathe their electronic vibrations in the air, with an almost obsessive and marked emphasis. Guitar embellishments are just vaguely outlined, with a post rock vibe, often in the background of the web of notes that has been created.
All of that sets up into a hypnosis, but unfortunately, to me, after some minutes it gets repetitive (the song lasts almost 9 minutes, but rumor says that the original was 40 minutes long!), maybe accomplice the not-so-well-pondered structural evolution of the song. A better impression goes with the techno/funky mantra “The Afterglow”, with an essential rhythm, opening itself to some twists and guitars which exalt Frusciante’s vocal range shifts, who plays with falsetto and an effective touchy style.
This last style is the key to do justice to the next song “Walls”, otherwise instrumentally too simple, where the atmosphere gets almost paranoiac and suffocating, within the singer’s acid screams who gets lost in reverbs. That’s what ends the more rhythimic and danceable section of the album, the two of them decide now to get on to some ballads, surely more intimate and reflective. Klinghoffer timidly approaches the mic, threading himself through black and white keys, to narrate his heart-rending “Communique”, holded by digital winds crossing him. The same structure is found in “At Your Enemies” but with a less impressive result, maybe because of the abused improvising style of the vocals, recalling that of Diamanda Galàs, style which Josh uses pretty often in his compositions.The electro-acoustic “Surrogate People” completes the triad, with vaguely prophetic lyrics, and the duo’s personalities erecting themselves in front of the purely experimentation in itself, in effect drums and guitar shortly come to be main characters in the oniric scenario that climaxes with a particular duet.
The introductions almost review partially the album, and the recording process itself is both a blessing and a curse of the final product, indeed even if it looks easy for such a duo, with a rock background, to compose an LP as “Inside of Emptiness”, in a more experimental context there can be remarkable difficulties. The short setlist, almost that of an EP but with a consistent duration (that should have been cut here and there), and the heterogeneous style, like demonstrated by “My Life”, a break that is almost a foreign to the album and belonging more to “Curtains”, are not helpful.
Therefore making an evaluation of the whole album in itself would be a little of a spite, in the sense that it is not representative of how each of them tend to use electronic instruments (we’ll see them separately both in “The Empyrean” and in Toni Oswald first solo album). It would be more advisable to relish it as a sort of training for artists, which can guarantee nice moments and some mistakes with the placing, going along between Radiohead’s Warp Records era (that of the beginning of the millennium) and fascinating vocal twists proper of Bjork in the Medulla era.

Writen by Gidan Razorblade

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