In The 48 Laws Of Power, it is stated that one should never step into a great man’s shoes. Josh Klinghoffer did that a decade ago by replacing longtime friend John Frusciante in the Red Hot Chili Peppers, but judging by the success-by-2010s-standards of his contributions thus far, namely I’m With You (2011) and The Getaway (2016) it seems that his violation of Law 41 paid off greatly instead. Frusciante these days is perfectly content as a studio artist and producer, having most recently released a ten-year-old handful of recordings under the moniker Trickfinger in 2017. (Update: He has since rejoined the Chili Peppers).
Klinghoffer, meanwhile has also been working under a nom de plume, and recently released a full-length titled To Be One With You as Pluralone. As a multi-instrumentalist, Klinghoffer covers many facets of the record from the vocals, guitar and keyboards to the bass and drums. He is not totally alone on the record though: Flea lends his legendary bass ability on one track and original Chili Peppers drummer Jack Irons chips in on a whole slew of them. Eric Avery from Jane’s Addiction shows up on another track, as does Dan Elkan from Them Hills. By Klinghoffer’s account, John Cale features heavily on the record too- as an influence, that is.
With a lineup brimming with alternative rock royalty, To Be One With You teases on the surface to be an exhilarating record. “Barreling”, the opening track sets Klinghoffer’s Corgan-esque whine against even more Corgan-esque keys to really set the mood for the remaining 9 tracks to follow. “Rat Bastards at Every Turn” keeps the pianoage rolling along finely over top of a simple boom-bap beat that eventually graduates into live drums, expanding on the more digitized dynamics the Chilis have branched into as of late on tracks like “Dark Necessities” from The Getaway. “Save” strikes a tenderer chord, starting again with deep keys and a drum machine and navigating towards a voluminous, room-filling ending. Klinghoffer’s singing is gentle and hypnotic, though often slurred, slippery and cracking between words. Regardless of what one might make of it, his vocal approach fits the instrumentation of the song perfectly- making the lyrical content less important than the overall encompassing swirl of Klinghoffer’s composition.
“Was Never There”, featuring Flea on bass duty contains little traces of thumb-eviscerating slap bass but tows the line of key-driven mellowness established thus far into the album; albeit a touch more uptick than “Save”. “Fall From Grace” takes it back down a peg, emerging forth from a vortex of wintery wind to manifest the auditory equivalent of a vibrant, starry night sky that dazzles the eyes and eases the worried soul. “Shade”, the album’s main single (“Fall” being another) starts off as Vampire Weekend acoustic chic and blows open into a shining, vining tune driven by its energetic drum breaks courtesy of recurrent drummer and early Chili Pepper Jack Irons. Where “Shade” is where the record got energized, “Mourning” is where the record gets synthesized- some light synth beds factor in on Track 7 alongside the standard-issue bottomless piano and computer-assisted drums. It is by this point, unfortunately, that the chilled-out keyboard and nasal singing formula becomes tiresome. Some more versatility would be appreciated at this stage of the game, although to credit Klinghoffer “Mourning” does eventually blossom into a fairly unique track by the time it concludes.
“Crawl”, ironically given its name is the most percussive and active tune on the album thus far, this time featuring Klinghoffer’s Dot Hacker bandmate Eric Gardner on the sticks and skins. A slightly more energetic dynamic is injected into the record thanks to this track, though Klinghoffer’s key formula largely stays the same. “The Ride” dives headfirst back into pianoland one last time, the ivories having taken far more of a prominent position on Klinghoffer’s debut record despite his being known as the Chili Peppers’ resident axesmith. Finally, the appropriately named “Segue” closes the album out, moving in a glowing shift towards more sophisticated electro drums, synths and a more guitar-driven sound than the majority of the tracks on To Be. Whatever Mr. Pluralone might be segueing towards in the future with this stringed and slickly layered finale is anyone’s guess, but with an ending like this it’s nothing short of intriguing.
With his debut solo album, Josh Klinghoffer a.k.a Pluralone proves himself to be many things. Early on, he insisted, and proved that he is not simply The Fru 2 but carries with him his own style and multi-faceted approach to music. Now, after branching out beyond the Chili Peppers what he has demonstrated is the capacity to be a formidable artist literally on his own instead of restricting himself to being a mere sidekick to well-established legends in rock. He certainly could do more apart from coiling a large chunk of his approach around the keyboard, but it is also just the beginning for him solo-wise, for one, and it does serve to show him more than just a simple guitarist. One can only wish good luck to Josh “Pluralone” Klinghoffer in the future, and eagerly anticipate what he might churn out next.