Published Jan 14, 2014With their first release in four years, remaining Black Knights members Rugged Monk and Crisis the Sharp Shooter return to the stage with a new secret weapon in the form of John Frusciante. Since departing from the Red Hot Chili Peppers in 2009, Frusciante seems to be leapfrogging through widely differing projects — Swahili Blonde, Omar Rodriguez Lopez Quartet, Speed Dealer Moms — so it's not entirely surprising that a venture like this would be next on his list. What is surprising, however, is how easily he takes to hip hop production.
Aside from some overly sentimental vocals throughout the album and an awkward changeover on "Deja Vu," Medieval Chamber is consistently loaded with excellent beats and odd pairings of samples, plucked from the far corners of music's history. "Knighthood," for example, couples folk vocals with wandering synths, while "Drawbridge" combines orchestral strings with gun pops.
When Frusciante is at his best on this album, it's easy to forget Rugged Monk and Crisis. Conversely, when Frusciante starts to wane, you begin to notice the true prowess of the MCs. Medieval Chamber falls just short of delivering both sides simultaneously. This is a work in progress, but it's also a commendable first attempt. (Record Collection)