Experimental rock can be difficult to describe. Los Angeles octet Swahili Blonde - a.k.a. the project former Red Hot Chili Peppers guitarist John Frusciante seems to have joined, quit and joined again - is one of those groups that tie commenters' pens in knots as it releases memories and pent-up melodies from the subconscious. The music is glorious and frustrating at the same time.
The group's new album kicks off with "Etoile de Mer," which begins with a sunny melody and the gentle lilt of a reggae tune. Singer Nicole Turley's vocals float over the song like wispy cirrus clouds, dissolving into rhythmic speech as chords grow increasingly dissonant and violins morph into synthy spaceship sounds. Metallic cymbals and the occasional saxophone riff fuel "Scoundrel Days," while "Purple Ink" teems with Tijuana brass and reverb-laden lyrical swirls. With twisted time signatures and spooky call-and-response sequences, "Zelda Has It" constructs a fantasy world where avant-garde artists like John Zorn and Lydia Lunch fire-dance with James Brown.