Bizarre happenings seem to be the order of 2020, and a man who is primarily known for his supreme guitar abilities venturing into the world of 90s jungle for his newest album (and naming said album after his deceased cat) can now be added to that list. Although John Frusciante is no stranger to heading off-kilter musically, this is his first professional dive into the world of jungle. 'Maya' sounds like a very personal album - not in the sense of Frusciante laying all bare, but because this feels like a real passion project for him.
"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.
On paper, the on-again, off-again, on-again guitarist for the Red Hot Chili Peppers writing a tribute to the UK's mid-'90s hardcore rave and jungle scenes might seem like an odd proposition, but John Frusciante has plenty of experience in this domain. Along with more than a dozen strummed-and-sung albums under his own name, he's released electronic music with his Trickfinger alias at a steady clip since debuting the acid-house-inspired project in 2015. In fact, this isn't even the first electronic album he's put out this year: An EP and third album as Trickfinger arrived in March and June, respectively.
John Frusciante's penchant for jungle is nothing new. The birth pains of that lovechild are evident in 2012's musical identity crisis PBX Funicular Intaglio Zone. The record was a battleground of fractured genres vying for possession of its soul, with Frusciante playing the role of shellshocked mediator between them. Yet out of the smorgasbord of ingredients thrown into the blender it was the breakbeats and samples that stitched up the patchwork and formed the binding motif.