Ataxia Automatic Writing

It’s uncertain why Fugazi’s Joe Lally has chosen to align himself with this side-project by the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ John Frusciante. Ostensibly a free-form rock project for Frusciante, Ataxia also includes multi-instrumentalist Josh Klinghoffer, who joins Lally and Frusciante on this self-indulgently drawn-out five-song record. As always, Lally is the calm of the storm, effortlessly calling upon the most remarkable grooves on his bass. His playing could probably have saved something like "Dust,” which sounds like a wimpier Regulator Watts, but the song is derailed completely by Frusicante’s vocals. Though they improve as the record progresses, here he is off-key and gurgles like Charles Manson. "The Sides” is almost redemptive, approaching some form of melodic sophistication but the most captivating song is the epic closer "Montreal.” With lead vocals by Lally, it features spirited playing by Frusciante and patient percussion by Klinghoffer. Its strength lies in the fact that it has Lally’s stamp all over it and, as a result, comes the closest to resembling the artier leanings of Fugazi. In a sense, enabling Lally to play on a new record is Automatic Writing’s greatest virtue. It will not appeal to the majority of RHCP fans and is, for the most part, a disappointing musical oddity. (Record Collection)