Jane's Addiction release their long awaited fourth studio album 'The Great Escape Artist' on October 17th. Spun through a kaleidoscope of tightly wound riffs, hypnotic harmonies, booming beats, and an unmistakable howl, the record announces the beginning of the next chapter for the alternative rock torchbearers.
The writing process began in 2010 and by early 2011 the band entered a Los Angeles studio with producer Rich Costey. Their intent was to travel a different road, and consequentially they paved an entirely new path for alternative music at large. Costey introduced Perry Farrell, Dave Navarro and Stephen Perkins to TV on the Radio's Dave Sitek with the hopes of getting him involved somehow. After a couple of lab sessions, the chemistry was obvious.
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Sitek stepped into the role of a songwriter and a bass player for the album with Navarro, and touring bassist Chris Chaney, also sharing four-string duties.
Sitek helped the band evolve their alchemy, expanding the sound even more. Farrell described Sitek's distillation of electronic textures, bombastic rock, and crazed punk to Rolling Stone magazine declaring, "He's like a scientist, and he's not afraid of making a monster."
Now, that monster is something of a multi-headed musical hydra. On the album, 'Twisted Tales' emerges from a haze of orchestral electronics and intriguing, infectious fretwork. A dystopian lyrical picture comes into focus as Farrell sings, "I had no mother, no trust, under the stars is where I would eat."
There's a cinematic intensity to the frontman's storytelling that reverberates throughout the song, especially as Navarro's acoustic guitar floats alongside it during the bridge. Elsewhere on 'Underground', the singer asserts, "I'm a hustler. I'll never give up the underground."
That underground still heavily figures into the mythos surrounding the music. And it was that "underground" that spawned Jane's Addiction in the first place. They hail from the underbelly of Los Angeles, a carnival of freaks, hustlers, miscreants, and street corner visionaries of all kinds that lies below the glistening veneer of Hollywood's lights; a counter culture driven by escapism.
Whether it's via carnal, mental, physical, chemical, or aural pleasures, the denizens of this quirky court thrive on escape. And it's from this underground that Jane's Addiction rose up, escaping out of it because of their unwillingness to compromise and adhere to the zeitgeist.
Jane's Addiction opened up the gateway to 'The Great Escape Artist' in a unique fashion on the first single, 'End To The Lies', a song that slides from an elegantly entrancing exorcism of distortion into Farrell's transcendent croon about "a composite of assholes" he knows. In order to conjure the otherworldly sounds of 'End To The Lies,' the band collaborated with The Master Musicians of Joujouka, Sufi trance musicians from northern Morocco.
Even with the experimentation, it's still classic Jane's Addiction. Talking about the song, Navarro reveals, "The band hails from Los Angeles. We come from the street. I think the combination of angst, the street element, the artistic element, and the love of sexuality and sensuality fuse together. It's pretty much what this band has been about since day one."
However, this time around, they transmute those stylistic and sonic hallmarks into a cavalcade of warm psychedelic synths and effects wizardry. The music nods to the movements of modern alternative rather than clinging to classic conventions. In the late 80s, the band bent the blueprint of rock to its whim. Now, they're laying the framework for another phase altogether. "We wanted to cast a spell," smiles Farrell.
That spell takes hold tight on 'Irresistible Force.' Sparse soundscapes drop into calculated percussive chaos as ominous keyboards entwine with a screeching lead. Further songs cast that spell wider and wider with each listen.
'I'll Hit You Back' punches with a punky intensity before spiraling off into another ethereal lead, while the epic six-minute ballad 'Splash a Little Water On It' glides across distorted darkness before breaking into another dreamy deluge of electronics and organics. And then, employing a powerful acoustic tone, 'Broken People' is a heartbreaking sonic chronicle of celebrity meltdowns—you can practically feel the cracks forming on the line, "She's really a good girl from a good family."
Nothing is what you would expect, and that's exactly what will bring you back to The Great Escape Artist. "The music that I listen to and love isn't necessarily rock-oriented anymore," Navarro explicated to Rolling Stone. "There is a beauty in simplicity that I'm really embracing. To me, that's evolution as an artist."
This is another level for Jane's Addiction, and they're opening doors for curious artists to follow just like they did nearly thirty years ago. Farrell concludes, "I love being able to escape my past even though my past was great. I just love the future even more."
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