Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante releases his third studio album under his Trickfinger alias. Following the project’s two self-titled albums (2015 and 2017 respectively), She Smiles Because She Presses The Button is arguably Frusciante’s most coherent vision yet, somehow holding together a diverse mixture of electronic and guitar-based music.
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John Frusciante is a man of many talents. Not only do his solo recordings under his own name usually draw on experimental rock, psychedelia and indie folk, he records as Trickfinger to produce acid house which leans more to the IDM side than rave-referencing dance music. ‘She Smiles Because She Presses The Button’ is his third album, following his excellent self-titled debut and an archival release two years later. Frusciante also announced he was re-joining Red Hot Chili Peppers and released the EP ‘Look Down, See Us’ in March, a record influenced by the rapid breaks and drill & bass of Squarepusher and µ-Ziq.
This new record sees Frusciante’s production and programming chops improve dramatically. It’s denser, more challenging and darker than the sprightly and melodic debut, but less off-the-wall rhythmically than ‘Look Down, See Us’. Each track shows John flexing his creative muscles, pushing into technical new directions whilst offering a varied song cycle. ‘Amb’ and ‘Plane’ see accelerating and decelerating tempos grounded with warped bass, ‘Noice’ bleeds dark drones and alien synths into rave call-backs and Aphex Twin melodies, and both ‘Brise’ and ‘Rhyme Four’ are perfectly suited for club use with their upbeat tempos and catchy electro melodies. It’s finished off nicely with ‘Sea YX6’, beginning with pots and pans percussion and ending with a sound more akin to Autechre’s glitchier moments.
2020 has been an excellent year for Frusciante, releasing his two finest electronic works to date. ‘She Smiles Because She Presses The Button’ feels like a sparser yet more thumping ode to Warp’s ‘Artificial Intelligence’ series complete with echoes of the UK’s acid house phenomena. The dancier moments are incredible and would be great to hear slotted neatly into a DJ set or John shaping a full-length of this style of bangers. Let’s hope we hear more of John’s weirder and more experimental side whilst he’s finished selling-out stadiums with the funky monks.
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