Walk in the park and a music review

In the course of a fairly stagnant day at the computer, I proceeded for a walk in a nearby park. With the rainfall tamed, the clouds sparse, the post-afternoon sun aggressively strong, yet the region protected by shade in presence of the enshrouding growth, the moment felt right.

All the key players performed their duties. The civil guard lazily observed the periphery like sheriffs of their humble domain. The gamers obsessed over the game-board tables with wild excitement. The athletic types either hovered circles around the territory or strained over the exercise kit. The calisthenic types extended on the pull-up bars of varying altitudes. Infants joyfully shouted at the barely passable version of a playground. The decadent types occupied their benches for what may as well be eternity. The cleaning crew waged a futile campaign against the birdlife, which, with impunity, remaining obscure in the altitudes of overgrown tree branches like guerilla, painted the scenery with their waste.

With the Sanyo MP3 player handy, I selected the album One Hot Minute by Red Hot Chili Peppers. I often listen to it during walks, exercise, or work. Then it occurred to me. I first experienced the album in 1995, the year of it’s release. It was one of the first compact discs I’ve owned. I’ve listened to it throughout the years, and still rather enjoy it nearly 25 years later. This nothing extraordinary of a commercial success of an album, sustained greater longevity of my listening than works of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, or any Rock album that comes to mind. With those other bands, I require break periods of years before the will to re-explore them returns. Yet One Hot Minute endures the test of time.

The album incorporates much funk, melodic bass, heavy rhythm, similar to their earlier works. Yet here I feel more elaborate orchestration, more overdubs, more experimentation.

For example, let’s take the fairly minimalist yet sensational 1991 album Blood Sugar Sex Magik. Beyond the occasional mellotron usage, tracks make use of very minimal orchestration. Whereas frequent ostinato normally causes me to disengage, BSSM incorporates it to great effect. It might own to the Zeppelin influence. The roles of the rhythm and melody section masterfully shift between Flea’s bass and Frusciante’s guitar. In fact, the concept somewhat blurs with the RHCP signature counterpoint between the two instruments.

One Hot Minute aims for a heavier presentation, with notable exceptions. But it does so in a non-imposing yet engaging fashion, compared to much of the 80s or post-2000 RHCP music, which leaves me either indifferent or frustrated even. Overall I’m critical of much of their music, considering entire albums rather than the many fantastic individual hits.

One Hot Minute also replaces the guitarist John Frusciante with Dave Navarro for the sole session. And whatever critique or controversy the replacement may have initiated, I felt a unique and memorable personality in the guitar track.

I ultimately came to identify One Hot Minute as that underappreciated funky Navarro album (not to take away from the remaining band). It’s not for all, but it stands on it’s own. It maintains a unique personality. And it delivers.