'Maya' Blows John Frusciante's Previous Electronic Forays Out of the Water

BY Daryl KeatingPublished Oct 20, 2020

"Give me a motherfuckin' breakbeat." These aren't exactly the words you'd normally associate with long-time Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante, but they're the first ones you hear on his new album, Maya. The whole record, in fact, is inspired by his favourite type of music: '91 to '96 UK breakbeat hardcore and jungle.

This might come as a bit of surprise to some, even to fans of his Trickfinger pseudonym, which flexes his acid techno muscles. There were lesser-known hints of Frusciante moving towards this style though, particularly his 2010 joint effort with Venetian Snares (whose record label is putting out Maya) and Chris MacDonald, titled Speed Dealer Moms — a short EP of cacophonous blips and breakcore. Hardened Frusciante fans might also remember him tinkering with these elements on some earlier solo ventures, like his 2012 record Pbx Funicular Intaglio Zone.

However, Maya simply blows any of Frusciante's previous electronic efforts out of the water. He has somehow pulled an IDM-infused jungle record out of his backside that could easily rival any of Squarepusher's, which is an enormous feat for a first try. Considering how comfortable Frusciante sounds in his new suit, you'd swear he's been making this kind of jungle for years. Tracks like "Flying" and "Usbrup Pensul" seem like they've been crafted by the hands of a seasoned veteran, which of course Frusciante is, just not in this sphere.

Those tracks, and many others on Maya, aren't just rapid-percussion onslaughts either — they're also armed with offbeat, funky breakdowns, which just adds a whole other level to these already weighty songs. Another neat tack that Frusciante employs is the use of bluesy soul vocals. While your face is being battered by drums, left and right, a sweet voice will emerge from the fray, ready to guide you through. On "Reach Out," it even sounds like Destiny's Child are the ones on guide duty.

If you're wondering why this album is released under Frusciante's real name and not Trickfinger or some other alias, you won't be alone. The truth is, this sounds nothing like his output as Trickfinger, so it wouldn't really make sense, but there's a more personal reason too. Maya is actually the name of his recently deceased cat, and seeing as it's dedicated to her, Frusciante felt it was such a personal title that he needed to put his own name behind it, which is incredibly sweet. The album itself is anything but, however — this thing kicks like a dirty mule, and we're happy to get belted.

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